Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Distractions

This week on Balkinization, Erwin Chemerinksy and Brian Tamanaha are debating the virtues and vices of UC-Irvine -- the new Orange County law school that spend $20 million of a donor's money to buy itself a fancy faculty and a highly credentialed first graduating class (none of whom paid tuition). UC-I was launched with much fanfare, on the basis of the claim that it could provide a new model for legal education, with a particular emphasis on public service.

It turns out the new model looks pretty much exactly like the old one: as dean, Chemerinsky has dedicated himself to chasing rankings by all the usual means, which of course all require an enormous operating budget, which will be funded in large part by tuition that for this year is set at $47K for California  residents and $53K for non-residents.

Tamanaha points out that these price points undercut the ability of students to pursue public service careers:

Students with debt that large are compelled by financial necessity to pursue corporate law jobs. Although public service jobs are eligible for a federal program that reduces monthly loan payments and forgives the remaining debt after 10 years, heavily indebted law students would take a huge risk to pass up a corporate law job, which is obtained though interviews in the fall of the second year, in the hope that they might later land a public service job, which is obtained near or after graduation.

Irvine law professors can saturate the atmosphere and curriculum with public service—it doesn’t matter. Irvine students will be forced to work in corporate law—and the many students who don’t land these positions will struggle under a huge debt. That is the reality of it. The “public service” goal was doomed, I argue in the book, by Dean Chemerinsky’s determination to create a "top 20" law school right out of the box.
Chemerinksy's response is that the only way for students to get jobs is for a school to be highly ranked, and the only way for a school to be highly ranked is to spend a boatload of money on chasing rankings (demurely recharacterized for rhetorical purposes as "providing a first-rate legal education.").  And by the way UC-I students do a lot of pro bono work before they graduate and we have bridge loans and scholarships for people going into public service so there.

This whole debate is strangely anachronistic, as it's framed as a struggle for the souls of law students, who must choose between high paying big firm jobs or low-paying public service work.  Tamamaha does mention that "the many students who don't land these positions will struggle under huge debt," and of course Failing Law Schools is dedicated largely to driving home this crucial point, but in this context it sounds like a debate between a couple of professors at Michigan when I was a student there 25 years ago, and public service jobs were what, except for a few zealots, people who didn't get big firms jobs "settled" for.

The reality is that under a best-case scenario (defined as UC-I being as successful in placing its graduates in the long run as UCLA and USC, which seems extremely optimistic) the solid majority of UC-I grads aren't going to get either big law firm jobs or public service law jobs.  In 2011 23.5% of UCLA grads got big firm jobs and 4.4% got federal clerkships.  LST estimates the school's public service score at 10.5%, which I believe counts every long-term job in "government" and "public interest" as a real public service lawyer job, which is almost certainly quite over-inclusive.  USC placed more people in big firms (34.3%, plus 4.3% in fed clerkships); however it placed only 11 people (5% of the class) in long-term "government" and "public interest" positions of every kind.

So realistically 40% at best of the collective classes at UCLA and USC even had a choice between a high-paying corporate job and a real public service law job.

Again, there's something perverse about arguments regarding law students having to choose between big firm lucre and virtuous public service.  That's still a live issue at Stanford, I guess. It's not the issue at UC-Irvine (or at 95% of the other law schools in the country).  The issue everywhere else is that somewhere between a solid to an overwhelming majority of grads are either not going to get real legal jobs at all, or won't get legal jobs that will allow them to service the debt incurred by attending law school in a timely manner, nor will those jobs make them eligible for PSLF.  These people aren't choosing between Davis Polk and DANY -- they're choosing between IBR and literally leaving the country.

That's the problem. Everything else is a distraction.

106 comments:

  1. UCI is Erwin Chemerinsky's vanity project, paid for by taxpayers. In that vein, it's a metaphor for law school in general, but it's more in-your-face about it.

    That guy's part of the problem.

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  2. Emerald: With the more negative reports coming out about law school, what was your reaction?
    Michael Moffitt: It’s funny because a lot of these reports are coming out as though this were something that just happened last month, a brand new development. The reality is that the legal market and legal education have been going through a fundamental transformation for most of the last decade. There have been some more recent developments in the market that I think have pressed fast forward on some of those developments, but there is not a lot in any of the reports coming out that are news to anyone who’s business is education. Theses are things for which we have been preparing for years. We’re really well positioned as to some of the changes, and we’re like a lot of other law schools in others. So, it’s not a surprise; it’s a confirmation of the expectations that we’ve been having about some of these evolutions.

    Q&A with Dean Michael Moffitt: Why law students shouldn’t be worried about law school
    http://dailyemerald.com/2012/08/27/qa-with-dean-michael-moffitt-why-law-students-shouldnt-be-worried-about-law-school/

    ReplyDelete
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    1. DeanSpeak: "The fourth thing is that we have intentionally decreased the size of the incoming first-year class. We have shrunk the number of students who are joining us, this year by 20 percent. And we made that decision in part to maintain the quality of the class that we want and in part to make sure we can provide every student with the individualized, personalized educational experience that increasingly they’re going to need."

      Plain English: "Our USNews Ranking would have been taken out behind the woodshed if we didn't shrink the size of the class by 20%."

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    2. I am a UO alum. He is a prevaricating idiot. That is all.

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    3. Just another proof that being an expert on Con Law does not make one a good human being, or a dean.

      :>>--

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  3. As for chasing the "brilliant minds" of UCI's faculty. Newsflash: law isn't that difficult and it's not a science! There isn't "research" that needs to be done. Wunderkind aren't pouring over a table trying to put a man on the moon. "Legal research" largely consists of mental masturbation about decisions made by judges in the practicing world of law.

    No one over the age of 25 gives a good God Damned what a law prof thinks. Frankly, I'd love to litigate against one, as I'd steal his lunch and ruin his life.

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    Replies
    1. Just another arms race. Has the cold war taught us nothing?

      :>>--

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  4. The “public service” goal was doomed, I argue in the book, by Dean Chemerinsky’s determination to create a "top 20" law school right out of the box.

    IOW, UC-I is a fraud, and Chemerinsky is at best a fool led astray by his ego.

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    Replies
    1. Not the first or last. Ego and pride leads people to do horrible things all the time.

      :>>--

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  5. It would be interesting to see which law schools are doing the best job of graduating students that take jobs with a debt to salary ratio of 1.5:1 or less.

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  6. No one over the age of 25 gives a good God Damned what a law prof thinks.

    As demonstrated by the fact that law professors almost never teach CLE courses. They have virtually nothing to offer to people who, you know, actually practice in the field that law professors supposedly spend their lives studying.

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    Replies
    1. People shouldn't care, but apparently they do as newspapers seek comment from LPs all the time. Agree that lawyers don't care though.


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    2. That newspapers, and the media in general, seek quotes from law professors speaks to the illusion of the value of credentials. He's a professor in the field, generates scholarship, he must know what he is talking about.

      The grim reality is that the truth of the matter is far different.

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    3. Hard to fight a thousand year worth of tradition, and establishment. That is why the scam has legs. People just give academics all the credit, because of their honorable past, that they are now diluting.

      :>>--

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  7. choosing between IBR and literally leaving the country....and suicide.

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  8. The sad thing is, when you are deep in debt suicide can be a whisper in the back of your mind. When the subway pulls into the station, or when you're looking at your full Xanax prescription and have a bottle of cheap vodka in the freezer. A little voice: this could end today; you could take control of one thing in your life. Thankfully for me, it is just a little whisper. But still.

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    1. Other ways out exist, such as faking your own death.

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    2. Just leave the country. Go to Margaritaville. Take the stress off and life is good. Debt is nothing more than numbers on a sheet of paper. Pretend you are a multinational corporation (corporations are people) and outsource your life across debt collection jurisdictions.

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    3. Hey, that's it. Just incorporate yourself, put all your debts into a "bad bank" subsidiary, and sell it to the gov't. Certainly the "corporate rights" crowd can't complain.

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    4. "When the subway pulls into the station"

      I had that exact experience over this exact issue with that feeling in your knees when you were a kid and afraid of jumping off of the diving board but before you knew it your body was doing it for some reason. I've been there. I'm not going back. Don't do it.

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    5. Let the person that has not contemplated suicide cast the first stone.

      :>>--

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    6. Dude- my sister killed herself - not because of debt but because of depression. We will never get over it. Try to remember that there are people who care about you and that your life matters.

      That people kill themselves over student loan debt is a huge shame on our country. It isn't your fault. The system is fucked and you thought you were doing the right thing.

      If you feel suicidal, please try to get help and really fight for your life.

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  9. Meet the new law school, same as the old law school.

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  10. There is something of a bimodal distribution in the public interest sector, at least in prestige if not in money. Public-interest jobs with national organizations located in large cities are highly sought after and are primarily held by HYS graduates with good grades and federal appellate clerkships. I don't think anyone needs encouragement to go after those jobs. Asst. D.A. in a rural county in the midwest -- not so much, although with the collapse of the legal employment market, those ADA jobs in Lower Bugtussle are becoming competitive as well.

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    1. Yes, and speaking as ... an HYS grad with an appellate clerkship who now works in a long-term public interest position ... I think this conversation is still relevant at HYS(and CCN? And maybe even MVP?) I definitely think it's a problem that even when confronted with good loan repayment programs, law students who CAN choose between public service and private sector careers shift over the course of three years in law school from wanting the former to wanting the latter. It's something for the top schools to address internally.

      BUT I agree with LP that this conversation is wildly irrelevant to the vast majority of law schools. For them, it's the ultimate red herring.

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    2. People like Chemerinsky simply do not realize circumstances have changed since they graduated. And they are too far in denial to listen.

      :>>--

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  11. To @7:39 AM:

    Your statement "Newsflash: law isn't that difficult and it's not a science!" hit it right on the head. When I was in law school, I wondered why the profs made us read the cases before coming to class, because they basically risked putting themselves out of business. In other words, I can read and understand English, so what do I need you for? As I sat there twiddling my thumbs in class, the classes I enjoyed most were the ones where the profs were funny. No one could ever add anything, other than in legal writing which was by far the best class in the program.

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  12. "Thankfully for me, it is just a little whisper."

    Please keep it that way. Debt is not worth ending your life over.

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    Replies
    1. Is existential boredom worth killing yourself over?

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    2. @8:47 AM: Stop being an insensitve douchebag. There is nothing existential or boring about a bill from Sallie Mae with a six-figure balance.

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

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    4. So...which is it? Don't kill yourself over existential boredom? Or, swallow a bullet with a glass of water and hope it kills you? So confusing! I see the brain trust is in full force this morning.

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  13. 7:36 "UCI is Erwin Chemerinsky's vanity project, paid for by taxpayers."

    Exactly. Why the hell do we need any more law schools, esp. given that more than half of all law school graduates can't even find a real legal job at all? Rather than opening more, half of them need to close down now. This will only happen if Congress turns off the spigot (not likely) or people wise up (to whatever extent they can) and "just say no" to law school.

    Anyone who prattles on about how students should forsake money and serve "real people" with "real problems" and "be a giver not a taker" reveals that they are completely out of touch with reality. It is insane to think that most law school graduates even have a choice between Big Money and Public Service. As LP notes, most will end up with neither.

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  14. Forget about struggling to find any legal job. Law students, many of them, can't event land an unpaid internship. Life sucks.

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  15. On the suicide comments: Talking about suicide can be healthy, because it does restore a sense of control. But for any of you who feel these whispers, please be sure to talk to someone about the full depth of your feelings and financial situation. It could be a friend or family member, it could be a religious or psychology advisor, it could be a person on the other end of a suicide hotline.

    Having those discussions is actually the best way to regain control of your life and figure out what options you have. I draw upon some personal experience in saying that: I have been very close to two people who were, at different times in their lives, housebound with serious, intractably painful, incurable illnesses. One (an older man) attempted suicide without talking about the full extent of his pain and feelings with anyone. His attempt was only partially successful--he lived a very painful unhappy month further in the hospital. I think he would have felt more control, and perhaps less physical pain, if he had shared his situation more openly with others.

    The other has had many discussions with me about the seeming hopelessness of his life. He is quite young, in his twenties. So far, he has wanted to keep living, finding compensations in life despite its very limited, painful boundaries. But the frank discussions about his life, his sadness and anger over the his physical limits (which in turn bring all sorts of social and professional ones), have been essential in maintaining his sense of control.

    So I take these mentions of suicide quite seriously. I can understand the feelings of desperation motivating them. But because of my personal experiences, I think I can also say how important it is to discuss these issues with other people. That's the best way to find avenues of control, even when (as in the case of the young adult close to me), control seems literally and physically impossible.

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    1. 8:11 am here.

      Thanks for the thoughtful response, DJM.

      I've never fixated on suicide or planned it. In fact, I am terrified of it, and the passing thoughts. Thankfully, I have a very supportive family, who make my life worthwhile. Further, I could never put my loved ones though my suicide.

      Thanks again.

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    2. Another thank you here. I have paid off my loans, but like many lawyers 10 years out, my career is over, I have a bright future behind me, and I certainly do have those thoughts. I don't *want* to die, though. What I want is to *not want to die*. Know what I mean? I did end up leaving the country and have nobody to talk to here, and it helps just to be able to say it, somewhere.

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    3. Been there, and done that. Crappy undergrad major left me in a bad situation. Bad outcome of law school will not do the same to me. But that is experience speaking. Will not be the same for the K-JD victims. Hope they can avoid doing avoid making the irreversible mistake. It is a struggle. Hope we do not have a wave of suicide coming up. Although I do fear it for many.

      :>>--

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  16. UCI could have followed the CUNY model. CUNY provides a relatively low cost public law school education (13K) in a saturated and competitive market with high COL. In order to do this you have to 1) give up chasing the USNWR dragon, 2) give up the presumption that you will place your graduates in AIII clerkships, biglaw, elite boutiques, or prestigious fed gov or public interest employment, 3) give up the extremely high professor salaries and benefits that come with a law school trying to meet both of these goals. You need to target a class that has worked extensively before law school, so they have a clear path into post-law school employment or a fallback option if they don't get it.

    A student coming out of law school with 40-50K in debt is going to be able to take that local government, direct legal services, or small firm job and not be dependent on PSLF.

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    1. A certain law school just north of Denver was charging $7650 per year in tuition in 2003 ($9500 in present dollars). And at that time it was already getting less than 10% of its operating budget from tax dollars.

      Oh well.

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    2. I wonder why UCI seems to think that the only kind of "public interest" employment out there is DOJ antitrust work or ACLU fellowships.

      I think it may be impossible for them to consider other classes of employment, since they would have never considered taking such a lowly job as a local DA or public defender. So creating a school where the emphasis is on getting those kind of jobs is unfathomable.

      I'd also say a small firm lawyer who deals in personal bankruptcies, elder law, T+E, or a dozen other practice areas where clients are middle class folks is very public interest oriented even if they are private sector.

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  17. Thanks, DJM. Excellent advice!

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  18. And the band played on . . .

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-29/student-loan-debt-rises-to-914-billion-in-2nd-quarter.html

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  19. What are they not pouring?

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    Replies
    1. Poor, Poor Poring Imponderables of the UnpourableAugust 29, 2012 at 10:36 AM

      Their attention.

      Delete
  20. 9:26,

    I wonder what percent of that debt is law school debt. It must be a significant percentage.

    Average LS indebtedness is over 100k at many schools. 100k times 100 students is $10mm. Times 100 schools is $1bln. Times 10 years is $10bln.

    I wouldn't be surprised if 10% of the $914bln figure is law school debt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually it's about 2-4%.

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    2. 9:26, I know I've read it recently (amount of the 1T attributable to LS debt) in some pop-press article, but can't find it again at the moment.

      It was pretty high, but I think 10% is perhaps a bit high.

      Consider the aggregate of 85% of law grads with (most recently) right about $100K in average LS debt.

      That'll give you around $3.5 bn per year. Maybe closer to 4 if the usual "average" number fails to include interest (as reported numbers do so often fail to do).

      That's quite a bit higher than your annual estimate, but even at 4 bn per graduating class, using today's numbers (much higher than 10 years ago, let alone 25 years ago), it would take 25 years to accomplish 10% of that 1T.

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    3. According to a Federal Reserve study, less than 3% of students (all students) have debt exceeding $100,0000

      http://chronicle.com/article/Student-Debt-Is-Growing-but-Is/133517/

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  21. and did you check out the article in THE ECONOMIST recently which asserted that law schools are cutting their enrollments so as to keep salaries up? Laughable. It is a still a blood bath out there for half the law school grads, at the very least.

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    Replies
    1. Do you have the date of the article? Google does not turn it up.

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    2. Seconded. Would love to read this article.

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    3. Oh, missed your link below. Sorry. Thanks!

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    4. I just read it, and my head hurts. Anyone want to take an over-under bet on how long it takes for Cooley et al. to post this article on their websites?

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    5. I used to read the Economist - as did a lot of colleagues - and I work with economists on a lot of cases and hear their views. Pretty universally the view is that since John Micklethwait took over as editor the quality of the magazine (or newspaper as they like to call themselves) has declined precipitously. It used to be that when the Economist published articles in someones subject of expertise they "basked in the attention," but now they mostly viturperate about the factual howlers and simply wrong statements that the articles are packed with.

      The writers and editors of the Economist tend to come from the same Oxford pedigree (PPE) - recommended and recruited through the same Dons, share the same economic views and are prone to the same biases - confirmation, expectation bias, etc. They are also it seems much more easily lobbied to a point of view than in the past - a few years back they published articles attacking GMOs (geographical designations of origin) citing for example parmesan - while in the same section lauding the economic importance of trademarks (citing some well known ones) - without noticing any irony - Kraft foods scored big there....

      Taking the offending article it is a piece of economics malpractice that would have any testifying economist destroyed in court. The statement was:

      "In 2000 the average American law-firm lawyer made $191,000. Exactly comparable numbers are scarce, but the average salary for all lawyers in Canada in 2002 was just $64,000; in Australia in 2000 it was $90,000."

      In 2000 the average lawyer's income in the United States was available - so a comparison could have been made directly with that amount and the exactly comparable amount for the other countries.It took me 45 seconds to pull up from the BLS the mean average wages for a lawyers in 2000 - $91,320.

      http://www.bls.gov/oes/2000/oes_23Le.htm

      Of course using that amount would not have supported the Economists argument as well as the cherry picked (how they got it one wonders $191,000 number.) Moreover, Australia and Canada have a very effective entry restriction to legal practice - the requirement of training in a law office, i.e., articles - the existing firms don't take on trainees if there is not enough business. It is this sort of crap that has led many people to write The Economist off as a publication.



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    6. Another set of howlers:

      "[I]n most states you must be a graduate of one of them to practise law. (California, most notably, lets students practise who have passed the bar without attending law school. Pass rates are a respectable 15%, against 30% for graduates of bar-approved law schools.)"

      Actually .... consulting Above the Law:

      Last year, the overall pass rates were 68.3% for all takers and 75.2% for graduates of the twenty ABA-approved law schools in California. This year, overall pass rates clocked in at 67.7%, while students who went to ABA-accredited law schools passed at a 76.2% clip.

      So in fact the bar passage rate is higher for law school graduates and indeed 5 times the rate reported in the Economist! Wow!

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    7. To keep them above zero, or maybe they meant the admin/dean salaries. :)

      :>>--

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    8. The problem with this kind of reporting is allows garbage statistics to be laundered. All I need do now is quote the figure as coming from the Economist and it becomes reliable in most people's view.

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    9. That is how the scam perpetuates itself. And that is why people still enroll in large numbers, and why parents pressure their kids to go. The Economist, or whatever other source they read could not be wrong after all...

      :>>--

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  22. THE ECONOMIST recently which asserted that law schools are cutting their enrollments so as to keep salaries up

    Dear God.

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  23. http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/interactive/article/20120819/news01/308190102/Cooley-Law-enrollment-falls-amid-skepticism


    http://www.economist.com/node/21528280

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  24. The BigLaw vs. Interesting Public Service choice is still alive only for those who:

    (1) Graduate near the top of the class at schools like Stanford, Harvard, or Yale;

    OR

    (2) Graduate near the top of the class at schools like Columbia, NYU, & etc. and have spectacular drive and networking ability.

    Otherwise, gaining access to public interest jobs is mostly a function of networking and connections. Firm jobs, for most highly credentialed graduates, are the exact opposite: they only require that you have the requisite grades.

    Most graduates who can get BigLaw CAN'T get public interest work - I know I couldn't, though I tried for months and months, and though my resume was focused on public interest work. So I "settled" for BigLaw - I'm not complaining at all, I feel very grateful to have a job that'll pay off my loans. But the reality is that public service jobs are extraordinarily difficult to get these days, whether with government institutions or non-profits. Any law school (with the exception of Yale) that purports to be a vessel for conveying its students into these positions is misleading the average student.

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    1. Mind sharing what school and how this worked re: the timeline. Seems like you need to commit to biglaw well before the PI job search really gets in gear (one of the perversities of law hiring). I'm a 2L and basically have foregone biglaw for the PI job hunt. Top school, good grades. Hoping I didn't commit career suicide but I'm also wondering how one might still have a shot at biglaw if one strikes out with the PI search early 3L year.

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    2. CCN, strong grades as well. Did the same, skipped OCI and focused on PI. I don't think it's a fatal mistake, especially because it's not IMPOSSIBLE to get that great PI job with the right credentials and, just as importantly, the right connections. It's just a low-percentage bet. Your odds are better if you aren't tied to a particular geographic area.

      My advice is to avoid putting all of your eggs in the PI basket. Consider finding a job your true task for 3L year, and spend much more time on succeeding in that task than at school itself. Apply aggressively to PI positions, but also apply to clerkships early and often and, if January, February, or March of 3L year rolls around and you find yourself with nothing, start mass mailing every single BigLaw firm in the country.

      I ended up transitioning into BigLaw from a clerkship - I am relatively happy here, but I'd much rather be working in public interest.

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  25. DJM and LawProf:

    I want to thank both of you for taking the time to address this issue in the ways that you have and for having the courage to come out publicly. Because of your time and efforts, much more thought has been given this issue that probably wouldn't have occurred had individuals within the profession not taken a stand.

    Thank-you for helping to create a movement. Hopefully, more and more individuals within the legal field will start to see that unsustainable rises in law school tuition cannot simply continue, thanks to you both.

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  26. Don't keep repeating the canard that indebted students can simply migrate abroad. There is a lot of hostility growing in east asia for example against young western "economic migrants" who are flooding into that area. A Chinese CCTV host recently railed against, "people who can’t find jobs in the U.S. and Europe come to China to grab our money." Visa restrictions are much tighter this year than last and Korea is heading in the same direction. Things are only going to get worse globally in this regard.

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  27. "Don't keep repeating the canard that indebted students can simply migrate abroad."

    I took that as sarcasm/humor. I don't think LP intended it as a serious suggestion.

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  28. An inconvenient quote from a report conducted by the California Postsecondary Education Council in 2007, assessing whether the U.C. Regents should approve the creation of Irvine Law(linked below), advising against it:



    "Based on a review of proposal data, documents, and
    analyses provided by the University of California,
    Irvine (UCI) and the University of California Office
    of the President, including recently submitted supplemental
    information, the UC Irvine proposal does
    not satisfactorily meet:

    1. The industry and occupational demand component
    of the Commission’s social need criteria;

    2. The program duplication component of the
    Commission criteria regarding the number of
    existing and proposed programs in the field;

    3. The Commission’s total cost criteria.

    Although California could benefit from a higher
    proportion of law school graduates pursuing careers
    in public interest law, this issue is being addressed
    by the California Bar Association and by a number
    of existing public and independent law schools,
    most noticeably the UC Berkeley law school.
    These collective efforts, which appear quite promising,
    greatly lessen the need at the present time to
    establish a new public law school to increase the
    supply of public interest lawyers.
    Given the above findings, the staff recommend that
    the Commission not concur with the proposal to establish
    a public law school at the University of California,
    Irvine."

    End of story, Erwin, your school was deemed to be superflous long before your first hire. Your school's citation count is little consolation to Calfiornia taxpayers and the rest of the desparate U.C. System whose scarce resources are being syphoned off to your ego.

    http://www.cpec.ca.gov/completereports/2007reports/07-01.pdf

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    1. This whole thing is unfathomable to me. Does anyone know why they approved this folly?

      Delete
  29. A commenter above mentioned the big 3 choices: IBR, leaving the US, or suicide,and DJM has a kind reply.

    Cryn Johannsen and I discussed the topic of student loan debt and thoughts of suicide on NPR radio last month:

    http://thestory.org/archive/the_story_072512_full_show.mp3/view

    Some of the readers here were very critical of the show. But I don't know, I thought it was a good effort.

    You know, there is something about deep debt in general that crushes the human spirit, and it is hard to mentally and emotionally cope with it all.

    Maybe the very premise of going for Higer Ed. and thinking it will improve one's lot in life, only to discover it has made life a financial disaster is the main source of the depression and despair.

    But as I tried to explain in the radio show, the scamblogs and related blogs wherein other sl debtors can converse and comment is kind of therapeutic in the way an Alcoholics Anonymous support group for instance can be.

    Just knowing that there are others with the same problem that can relate and identify goes a long way to help. And so it can perhaps be said that these types of blogs are somehow a social good, as is the AA or any other type of 12 step support group for gamblers, overeaters, smokers and more.

    And sometimes it is the little things in life that keep a person going too. For instance, I was thrilled when the NY Yankees acquired Ichiro Suzuki from Seattle and look forward to watching him play on TV or listening to Yankee games on the radio now.

    Iciro is one of the all time greats of the game.

    ReplyDelete
  30. "listening to Yankee games on the radio"

    An relaxing pastime that costs practically nothing, BTW, and is therefore available to rich and poor alike.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Law prof: no offers to 2L SAs have gone out. What advice for those people?

    ReplyDelete
  32. Quit school now, get refunds for 3L year and go get a warm-body job using your undergrad degree.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I have to laugh since in law school, I actually bought a tape series for my Legal Ethics class by none other than Erwin Chemerinsky!

    As they say, you can't make this stuff up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do as I say, and not as I do. failing as old as time itself.

      :>>--

      Delete
  34. From the Economist article linked above: "In 2000 the average American law-firm lawyer made $191,000. "


    Where in the world do they get this kind of number? Can't tell, since they make no citation of any kind.

    But I don't think it's even close to say the average "law-firm" lawyer made that much. Maybe the average in firms greater than 500 lawyers, but they didn't say this.

    Gotta just love negligent reporting, even from the Economist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have been a reader of The Economist for years, and a subscriber since completing law school (because I didn't have the time to read a bi-monthly during law school). I generally hold them to a higher standard. They failed to meet it in that piece linked above: http://www.economist.com/node/21528280

      Lawyers keep their numbers carefully pruned? On what planet?

      Delete
  35. Tale of 2 deans: Dean Clueless and Dean ScalawagAugust 29, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    Linked above local MI press on Cooley, http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/interactive/article/20120819/news01/308190102/Cooley-Law-enrollment-falls-amid-skepticism

    Here's a game. See if you can correctly parse these 2 statements into the categories of Dean Clueless, and Dean Scalawag.

    “I think it’s the right thing to do, to reduce the number of students we enroll in a world in which there is at least a temporary surplus of new lawyers,” [Mich.StateU law] Dean Joan Howarth said.

    Cooley officials see their responsibility differently. Just as Cooley didn’t lower its standards to admit more students this year, LeDuc said, “we don’t refuse people when there are more applicants.”


    As an aside, the article also mentions "Last year’s entering class at Thomas M. Cooley Law School was down by more than 400 students from the class before, a drop of almost 27 percent."

    But Cooley's tuition is increased to over $37K for this entering class.

    That means Cooley officials are still laughing all the way to the bank. Over $40,000,000 in tuition for this entering class. Assuming they stick all three years (well, unlikely), that's over $120 million.

    ReplyDelete
  36. This blog is always interesting, keep up the good work. In addition to DJM's comments regarding getting help for suicide thoughts, I would also add its a matter of perspective. Sometimes just looking around and recognizing that you are not alone with your debt, and there are so many other folks out there personally helped me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. I am the 10-year-out sad lawyer who posted above, and it is so comforting to know that even if I am a big loser, I'm not a *uniquely* big loser.

      Delete
    2. Shared misery is always preferable to being miserable alone. Ergo a bottle of vodka in, and posting on scam blog at 5 am.

      Well at least I have done my reading first. Good little lemming that I am.

      :>>--

      Delete
  37. But still and all I wonder just how many people are drowning in SL debt from LS or Higher Ed. and is the number great enough to make it a political priority, or is leaving the country the only fix.

    I mean, the public doesn't care about the problem and has other priorities.

    For instance, I was just reading an ESPN article about Lance Armstrong, and there are well over two thousand comments, and the page kept moving as I was reading some of the comments because more and more were being added at an amazing rate.

    Granted the readers might have not all been in the US, but still it just goes to show what people really care about and what the probably dont or wont care about, like a mere 1 trillion in SL debt.

    ReplyDelete
  38. The two "videos" contained here provide the most accurate & succinct summary of the law school scam.

    http://my.firedoglake.com/cranestation/2012/08/29/dont-go-to-law-school-find-out-why/

    And they're pretty damn funny.

    Law prof, you ought to figure out how to link to them as part of your blog heading.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Thanks for posting about Law School Scam.
    do it yourself will

    ReplyDelete
  40. Some people should just stick to writing/editing decent con law casebooks, and avoid running scammy law schools. But pride and ambition is the undoing of us all.

    :>>--

    ReplyDelete
  41. Meanwhile over at JDU:

    eject (Aug 30, 2012 - 4:09 am)

    "The rest of your life starts the day you strike out at OCI."

    It's amazing isn't it? After 1 year of law school, people are put onto two different paths and there is never any going back. The tracks never merge again. I think the best part is trying to explain to friends and family why that is the case. They will just assume you are giving up and being a fatalist.

    Reply
    unemployedtroll (Aug 30, 2012 - 7:18 am)

    I hope you're drinking Popov. Get used to it!

    ReplyDelete
  42. UCI did not need a law school. Whiitter Law School and Champman were already in Orange County.

    Look at where UCI is located, it's in the middle of a huge corporate area of Orange County. Nobody in their right mind would think that UCI would be all about public sector work. If it was then it would have been built in Santa Ana at a satellite location!

    Dean Cherm... Go update your Barbri video

    ReplyDelete
  43. "Quit school now, get refunds for 3L year and go get a warm-body job using your undergrad degree."

    It would be hard to find fault with this advice. No point in adding another $50,000 to your debt load.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. But people wont do that. They are too far into the big law dream. One guy was considering dropping out, but had no other plan. He was convinced to stay because he would get a "credential" he wouldn't otherwise have.

      No one on TLS that got no offered is going to drop out.

      Why don't people understand money?

      Delete
  44. Thank you for recognizing the soundness of my advice, I mean, it sucks to think you'll be getting 30K like your friends who skipped on grad school, but you can still pay down your debt, and you go home at 5 on Friday to drink with friends until 9am on Monday. I left that kind of job, luckily became a Biglaw associate (to pay down my debt) and I hate my life. Get out while the getting's good. BTW, if I had stayed there instead of law school, I'd have saved up about 100K now instead of owing that much. Just an FYI for 0Ls out there who think that making 30K with bennies for a few years is the worst thing ever.

    ReplyDelete
  45. And...to add to my post, if you get that big corporate job paying 30K...they will typically pay for college classes so you can get an MBA AND a hard science degree for free and then do something that pays big/might have a future/doesn't suck like law.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe in the "ustacould" years. Today, "Meh, not so much".

      About the best you'll find is a rolling annual $2K reimbursement program - and that's IFF your boss will agree to certify that the degree furthers the interests of the company.

      (Exceptions include, if you somehow manage to wangle a marketing position without the MBA already, you might, just might, get full funding for a night/saturday MBA programme.)

      Delete
    2. About the best you'll find is a rolling annual $2K reimbursement program

      Accurate. Those programs largely went the way of the dodo bird.

      Just like pensions, and decent inexpensive health care.

      Below thirty. . . better be ready for the hunger games.

      Delete
  46. I can second the suggestion of going back to work and taking advantage of your employers' tuition rebate program - I got a part time MBA paid for this way. After getting my MBA, I ultimately requalified for the bar (after a 10 year hiatus) and got a good corporate counsel position. I would not have been able to pay for the MBA on my own though...

    ReplyDelete
  47. @LawProf, DJM (and others)

    Speaking of "distractions," here is President Obama on the current crisis in legal ed. Other than campaign season, I can't think of a reason why he and the poster are so sure their "immediate prospects will improve in time":

    "I am recent law school graduate. Despite graduating from a top school, I find myself unemployed with a large student loan debt burden. While I'm sure my immediate prospects will improve in time, it's difficult to be optimistic about the future knowing that my ability to live a productive life -- to have a fulfilling career, to buy a house, to someday raise a family -- is hampered by my debt and the bleak economic outlook for young people. I know that I'm not alone in feeling this way. Many of us are demoralized. Your 2008 campaign was successful in large part due to the efforts of younger demographics. We worked for you, we campaigned for you, and we turned out in record numbers to vote for you. What can I say to encourage those in similar situations as I am to show up again in November? What hope can you offer us for your second term?" - hmlee

    "I understand how tough it is out there for recent grads. You're right - your long term prospects are great, but that doesn't help in the short term. Obviously some of the steps we have taken already help young people at the start of their careers. Because of the health care bill, you can stay on your parent's plan until you're twenty six. Because of our student loan bill, we are lowering the debt burdens that young people have to carry. But the key for your future, and all our futures, is an economy that is growing and creating solid middle class jobs - and that's why the choice in this election is so important. The other party has two ideas for growth - more taxs cuts for the wealthy (paid for by raising tax burdens on the middle class and gutting investments like education) and getting rid of regulations we've put in place to control the excesses on wall street and help consumers. These ideas have been tried, they didnt work, and will make the economy worse. I want to keep promoting advanced manufacturing that will bring jobs back to America, promote all-American energy sources (including wind and solar), keep investing in education and make college more affordable, rebuild our infrastructure, invest in science, and reduce our deficit in a balanced way with prudent spending cuts and higher taxes on folks making more than $250,000/year. I don't promise that this will solve all our immediate economic challenges, but my plans will lay the foundation for long term growth for your generation, and for generations to follow. So don't be discouraged - we didn't get into this fix overnight, and we won't get out overnight, but we are making progress and with your help will make more." - PresidentObama

    Taken from the President's "AMA" conversation on Redit: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501465_162-57502874-501465/obama-answers-questions-on-reddit-ama-read-his-full-answers/?tag=contentMain;contentBody

    ReplyDelete
  48. Cont'd from above:

    "These ideas have been tried, they didnt work, and will make the economy worse."

    It is too bad he was not talking about of GradPLUS, IBR, etc. This is the best description I've seen thus far.

    ReplyDelete
  49. So there you have it from Mr. Hope and Change. Being unemployed for a couple of years out of law school is great for your long term prospects as a lawyer. Once all those investments in wind and solar power kick in, there will be full employment for all law school grads.

    ReplyDelete
  50. That reply was classic Obama--not really saying anything specific, but designed to make us all feel warm and fuzzy.

    "keep investing in education and make college more affordable"--yes, all that government "investment" in higher education has certainly kept tuition down hasn't it?

    "promote all-American energy sources"--translation: give out more taxpayer money to my cronies who cant convince other people to willingly invest in their businesses.

    "prudent spending cuts"--such as? I don't think Obama has proposed cutting a single program.

    Of course the same things can be said of Romney. Too bad it's too early to start drinking.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Does Brian Tamahana really criticize you for "making the choice to create a top 20 law school" - as if pushing GW out of the top 20 is some great service to the nation?

    Or does he criticize you for charging $47,000 a year when all but a handful of your students have no hope of making a salary that would justify the debt load. How many of your 2012 class are earning more than $150k a year? It's not helpful when you make your case through elision - 40 percent received "offers" in big law? How many big law people did you place earning more than $150k.

    And why would lowering the salaries of law professors "lead to poor legal education." The market really supports $200k and up for a law professor to work 10 months out of the year? English professors have done more with less. At least at the end of my stint at the Univ. of Pennsylvania I knew something about Chaucer, which is more than I could say about anything I learned at UNC Law School. Surely you know this and the fact that the American legal system is unique for wasting so much young talent with so much useless training.

    It's disheartening to see you make such a weak case for fattening the pockets of law professors on the backs of law students and the American taxpayer who will surely be called in to rescue the whole lot of us when this bubble bursts.

    ReplyDelete
  52. UCI law school is systemically dishonest because its genetic code is systemically dishonest. The UCI genetic code is systemically dishonest because its founding dean, Erwin Chimerinsky is systemically dishonest. What he wants is the fame of setting up a high status law school. To do this he had to come up with a plausible rationale. What he came up with was "public interest law." But in every decision he made when he had to chose between prestige and public interest he opted for prestige. Now he has his law school. And no one who graduates from it can afford to take a public service job. What an unethical slime.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Law profs are all about making money without doing a lot of work. Believe me the legal academy is a giant circle jerk. Students are the last thing on profs' minds. Belee dat.

    ReplyDelete

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