Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Law schools significantly understate graduate debt (Part I)

This blog turns one year old today.  A lot has happened in and around legal academia in that year. In particular,  the law school transparency movement has made remarkable progress. It's much harder now for law schools to hide the ball in regard to employment and salary data, and the conventional wisdom about law school has shifted perceptibly, to the point where it would be a remarkably naive 0L who would manage to enroll this fall without realizing that law school (indeed all law schools to varying extents) has become a very risky proposition.

Of course greater transparency is a necessary but not sufficient condition for beginning to bring about real reform.  And much work regarding transparency remains to be done.  Here's an example of how misleading some of the official ABA-approved numbers remain:

This weekend DJM pointed out to me that we may have missed a very significant distortion in the reported graduate debt numbers -- one that is far more systematic and practically important than the fact that a handful of schools (Rutgers-Camden, Georgia State, and Barry for certain; Southern, Texas Southern, and Faulkner in all likelihood) had been misreporting their debt data to the ABA until a few months ago, and that this misreported data has yet to be corrected on the only site where it's available to prospective students.

What DJM realized, in the course of analyzing the debt of the student whose situation formed the basis of this particularly important post, was that there good reasons for thinking the graduate debt numbers law schools report to the ABA do not actually represent real graduate debt at all, but instead another -- and here's a surprise -- significantly lower number.

We each did some investigation yesterday, which confirmed her suspicions.It turns out that when law schools report the educational debt accrued by their graduates over the course of law school they're not really reporting that: instead they're reporting the mean total of law school loans taken out by their graduates.

To see why this is an important distinction, consider the effect it has on the debt numbers at the typical graduating class of 2011 at a private law school.  According the ABA Journal, the ABA reports "the average education debt for law grads at private law schools last year was nearly $125,000" (given that Barry under-reported its graduates debt by a factor of three we can ignore the "nearly.").

But that wasn't the average education debt.  Leaving aside for the moment that this figure doesn't include other educational debt, the average (mean) balance of the law school loans 2011 private law school graduates had when their first payments became due in December was approximately $142,565.  The extra $17,565 in debt represents interest accrued on those loans over the course of law school. Recall that with the exception of the first $8,500 of a subsidized Stafford loan (a subsidy that was eliminated this summer and will not be enjoyed by students going forward), interest on loans starts accruing as soon as they're disbursed.

The practical upshot of this is that real law school debt -- that is, the actual balances carried by graduates when their first payment becomes due -- is on average quite a bit higher than the numbers reported by law schools to the ABA.  And the effect becomes stronger the more a graduate owes, both because the effect of the subsidized Stafford loans is minimized, and because the gross dollars represented by a percentage increase become larger:


Reported average graduate debt: 
$75,000

Actual average graduate debt:
$82,670
10.2% higher

Reported average graduate debt:
$100,000
Actual average graduate debt:
$112,575
12.6% higher

Reported average graduate debt:
$125,000
Actual average graduate debt:
$142,565
14.1% higher

Reported average graduate debt:
$150,000
Actual average graduate debt:
$172,500
15% higher

Reported average graduate debt:
$200,000
Actual average graduate debt:
$232,400
16.2% higher

So for example when American University -- where 36% of the 2011 graduating class had jobs as lawyers nine months after graduation -- reports that the average (mean) debt of its graduates in that class who had law school debt was $151,318, that means the real number was actually approximately $174,100.

Are law schools being intentionally deceptive on this subject?  Here are the ABA's instructions for filling out the relevant part of its questionnaire (this is courtesy of Law School Transparency, who pointed out the interest accrual problem quite awhile ago, although nobody in legal academia seems to have noticed until now):

For Question 17, only include information for:
 1. J.D. students who graduated in 2009-2010
2. Only law school debt (e.g. not including undergraduate debt)
3. Total loans for law school processed through the university or law school financial aid office.
4. Do not include post J.D. loans (i.e. bar loans) even if distributed prior to graduation.
This certainly gives law schools a lawyerly excuse for reporting average totals of loans disbursed rather than actual average law graduate debt at graduation (By the way law schools do have ready access to the latter numbers).  Of course a scrupulously honest institutional system would report actual average debt. A less scrupulous but more cautious system would at least include an explicit caveat that the reported numbers do not include interest accrued over the course of law school.  Instead our public advertisement for this system describes these numbers as "average indebtedness of 2011 graduates who incurred law school debt."

But this is not the only way in which law schools significantly misrepresent the debt incurred by their graduates.  We'll have more on this throughout the week.




107 comments:

  1. Oh Yeah! Beat you again #2

    ReplyDelete
  2. In case no-one else has suggested it - check out this weeks Doonsbury

    http://doonesbury.slate.com/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Congrats on hitting the one year mark.

    ReplyDelete
  4. First paragraph - 'process' should read 'progress'

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you LawProf and DJM for hitting the loan debt question in a meaningful manner this week.

    Its an area I have been unable or unwilling to try to get a handle on myself, like most lawyer folks I know.

    Class of 2000
    SL Debt 160k and climbing

    ChicagoDePaul

    ReplyDelete
  6. The American Association of Law Schools wants me* to remind prospective 1Ls that a law school education is still priceless.

    *Spokesman paid with two warm blankets and a week of canned foods.

    ReplyDelete
  7. this year has been a great year for scamblogging--we have really broken through to a higher level. Never really thought we would have this much success so quickly. Great work, paul.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes, congrats on your 1-year anniversary! You've been remarkably productive and consistent. I know from experience how much work it is to keep putting up solid content day after day after day.

    A suggestion (while realizing how busy you must already be): One way to leverage all this great content and reach a wider audience would be to collect the best posts in an e-book to be sold on Amazon and elsewhere. If you gave it the right name (e.g., So You Want to Be a Lawyer: Two Law Professors Explain Why You Should NOT Go to Law School), you could catch the attention of 0Ls who are looking for "How to Get into HYS" guidebooks. Price it at a couple of bucks.

    Since you already have the content, the process would be amazingly easy if you're willing to pay about $150 for one of the numerous freelance formatters out there who specialize in turning Word files into e-books. Within a matter of weeks your book can be for sale on Amazon. I've gone through the process and can recommend a top-rate formatter if you're interested.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great suggestion. Find out what it would cost and I'll contribute.
      Tricia Dennis

      Delete
    2. Damn new iPhone. Just read the rest of post. Not tech proficient at all. I'll contribute 150 to the project

      Delete
  9. @LawSchoolDeathWatch WE have broken through?? Didn't you start your website a month ago?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Why should the type of student who would be looking for "How to Get into HYS" guidebooks be told definitely not to go law school? I don't think anything LawProf has written would suggest that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because they probably won't.

      Delete
  11. That was just an example of a catchy title I came up with in 0.5 seconds. It wasn't intended as a serious suggestion.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Instead of trying to estimate all the numbers, why not just ask former students to post their debts somewhere?

    Would they be too ashamed to come forward? and state:

    "Look, this is my name, and here is my total debt and I went to X Law School and graduated X year"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Huffington Post does this for all educational debt if you submit.

      Delete
  13. Oh. The advice about publishing is useful.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Imagine the kind of effects on society that IBR will have - inheritance (even the inheritance of a modest, middle-class home) for instance!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Alan Collinge's Website is: www.studentloanjustice.org

    and if you go to the link for "Testimonials" you will see a map of the US that you can click around on and read long stories about SL debt.

    The stories are anan,and are getting old by now because the SL debt problem is old.

    But wouldn't real examples, hopefully thousands, be more effective than trying to do sleuth work so as to figure out how many abstract people owe how much?

    Or maybe talking about debt in a real sense is so much dirty laundry, and not everyone is as stupid as painterguy and willing to just come out and say how much he or she owes?

    Robert Applebaum collected a long, long list of similar testimonials. It is hardly a novel concept.

    What would be different is if people were willing to say who they were. After all, if a lot of this debt is public money on the federal credit card..........

    ReplyDelete
  16. Tough choices for law schools amid jobs crisis

    "The advice I got from all of them was don't even bother applying to law firms right now, because you're just wasting your time," said Achen, now 30. "They're not hiring."

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g5vbhjqWEyKhwnBhQfNbo3dMdVKw?docId=0182513a0c4c44278223af1eece72dab

    ReplyDelete
  17. Happy anniversary, and thank you for your work. I am a recent law school applicant, admitted to a T-14 at sticker this past cycle, but I have decided to take a step back and re-evaluate the whole thing.

    7:03 has a outstanding idea by the way; please do consider selling the e-book on Amazon.com. Actually, you could get a digital print service to offer book versions for people without kindle or who prefer a physical copy - that would be inexpensive, too. I believe Amazon owns a few digital printing services and I'm sure they could set that up very easily.

    While I think scamblogging, TLS, LSP, and other sites have had some success, I remain a little skeptical about how much. I will be really interested to see the number of matriculants to lower-ranked law schools; these numbers should be out within a month.

    I guess what I mean is that it would not at all suprise me to find out thousands of 0Ls who decide to attend this fall actually are in fact remarkably naive and ignorant about the risk of attending law school.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I guess what I mean is that it would not at all suprise me to find out thousands of 0Ls who decide to attend this fall actually are in fact remarkably naive and ignorant about the risk of attending law school.

    One of the sad ironies of the whole situation is that the people who (like yourself) take the most lawyerly approach to the law-school decision are the ones most likely to decline to attend. Or to put it differently, one could argue that the scam is selecting out the students who are the least likely to make good lawyers.

    ReplyDelete
  19. (I'm Anon from 9:06)

    I worked for 4 months to get the LSAT score I needed for a top school, and had started looking into employment data, was thrilled to get into Michigan/Virginia/Duke, then I started playing with a bankrate loan calculator, and a post-tax salary calculator, and it's just fucking sad.

    Even if you win a biglaw job, it's possible that in a secondary market your life is still a grind for the next decade, especialy if you can't lateral into a comparable salary after your third or fourth year.

    And, when calculating your odds of winning the law school game, surely you have to lose the second coin toss (staying in biglaw for > 3 years).

    ReplyDelete
  20. A bit more proof that the light is beginning to shine, if dimly:

    Last night I was watching an episode of The Closer [TBS]. Central story was that a character whom we'd all assumed to be "good" [law student who was studying for the bar; girlfriend of one of the main cop characters] had been selling "inside information" re cases to a lawyer suing the police department, in exchange for . . . wait for it . . . $60,000 payment towards her STUDENT LOANS.

    ReplyDelete
  21. 9:14-
    That is an incredibly important point! i hope some of the first year professors on this blog will give us some early read on whether or not that is so. You would be amazed at what you can tell about a class after the first month or so.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Anybody have a reliable source for attorney salaries? Based on anecdotal evidence from here and there, it seems like sources like salary.com may not accurately reflect market rates (e.g. according to salary.com, attorneys with 0-3 years experience average $85k per year, and salaries of the middle 50% range from $73k to $100k). I would think that aspiring law students would consider these "independent" information outlets as a positive indicator for going to law school.

    http://www1.salary.com/Attorney-I-salary.html

    ReplyDelete
  23. "This certainly gives law schools a lawyerly excuse for reporting ... disbursed rather than actual ... debt"

    Not sure this is quite fair. They're reporting what they're told to report. Could they dig a little deeper, and, as suggested, provide it with an asterisk noting that interest accrued is not counted? Probably so. But would the ABA do anything with that asterisked comment, anyway? Or would it shave the comment off and present the information only as they sought it?

    (I dunno.)

    But clearly the ABA are in the wrong for referring to the number as "the average education debt".

    And I am glad that Kyle and LP are bringing the issue up; I seriously doubt most students understand the "average" is anywhere from 10-16% higher than they *think* it is.

    ReplyDelete
  24. 9:06 / 9:29, maybe you're already looking into this, but are there any "cheap but good" options for you? Maybe a regional school in 2nd Tier, locally well thought of, that is considerably less expensive than the T14 and/or would offer one such as yourself a free ride?

    Just thinking out loud...

    ReplyDelete
  25. When these academic hustlers and con men talk about "the noble profession" and "ethics," don't you just want to laugh until your sides are hurting?

    ReplyDelete
  26. as i read nando's blog over the past 2 years or so, it has been clear from the outset that law students were being fucked. now that LP has given us an insider view with a much more cynical breakdown of the numbers, it is increasingly clear that law school is a major risk outside the T6/T8 w/o a non-stip scholly.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Tdennis,
    Did you contribute that $50 from that bet several posts back? Just following up :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. 9:50 AM--I am doubtful that there is any really reliable source for "attorney" salaries. The ones which depend on self-report (e.g. almost all of them) are meaningless unless 95%+ of the population of interest actually reports their salaries AND does so accurately. Keep in mind that many practicing attorneys these days do not have salaries (e.g. "eat what you kill" arrangements, or paid hourly/temp wages).

    Also do the "attorneys" salary data include "law school graduates who were uable to find legal jobs and now work in retail/service jobs?" I don't think so, but such outcomes should certainly factor into evaluating the financial outcomes of law school.

    IMHO prospective law students should ignore data about attorney salaries, and take LawProf's recent advice: Get the names of recent graduates from the school you are considering. Alternatively, search the state bar website(s) for recent grads of the school. Look on the bar web site for employment information for these graduates. Tally how many work in different types of environments. Call or email a random sample, and see what they are willing to tell you about their employment outcomes. This should give much more useful information than some worthless salary "data."

    ReplyDelete
  29. I'm waiting for the following to turn up in the next "our scholarship/law review articles are SO valuable" argument.

    From today's NYT ["Estate Planning for Savvy Zombies"]

    ***WHO doesn’t love a good law review article?

    It’s “Death and Taxes and Zombies.”

    See? Interesting! It’s what we’ve all been waiting for: an investment strategy angle on the whole zombie phenomenon.

    This timely academic work explores the important question of whether zombies should be considered dead for purposes of the estate tax. With proper planning, the author suggests, there could be profitable investing for the shambling horde in “the coming day when the undead walk the earth, feasting on the living.”****

    [Note: Sure would love the ability to do a bit of formatting in one's comment.]

    ReplyDelete
  30. God bless you law prof. This year hasnt been easy for you. But look at the difference you have made. Think of the progress we will make in one more year.

    You are an inspiration.

    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  31. One common problem I see after about a year of lurking on TLS is that out of the constant stream of Choosing a Law School threads that pop up, only a very small percentage of these posters seem to consider an accurate measure of their post-graduation total debt level.

    And these are people who have taken the time to seek out advice. They take tuition (for the first year only) and COL estimates (too often an optimistic 15K per year), then add those numbers together, and pop the question: is it worth it?

    They ignore tuition hikes, interest, loan origination fees, (alcohol expenses), CURRENT DEBT, bar fees, whatever else.

    A second problem is once you get a magic number, what the fuck do you do with it? People seem to think that each T14 is worth nearly any amount below a figure arrived at via an Expected Value calculation.

    There are some practical things you can do once you get an accurate figure of your total post-graduation debt level. 1) bankrate.com loan calculator -- find out how much of your salary will be spent on loans at 7.2% interest in order to pay it off in ten years. THEN 2) salary paycheck calculator - figure out how much your annual post-tax income is. Subtract 1 from 2. That's what you get to live on.

    And, fuck, 3) write a budget. In essence, ask yourself, how is this going to work? Rather than the wrong question (is it worth it?), which you can't possibly know until years after the fact.

    I think there are thousands upon thousands of matriculants who will never do this basic math. Many of them have probably never written an annual budget before. They're told by family, friends, pre-law advisors: just go, you can pay the loans back later.

    And of course these folks are clueless about interest rates, forget employment outcomes. Bi-modal salary distributions I can't see too good is that Richard Feynman?

    Naturally, if applicants did use calculators and write budgets and generally ask such practical questions, they might come to the conclusion that graduating with even less than the actual average law school debt, say even 100K, is no walk in the park on a 55K salary, assuming you are lucky enough to get the job.

    By the way, to pay off 100K in ten years, you're on the hook for 14K per year, which in a state with income taxes, as a single filer, leaves you with about 25-27K to live on. Sound fun?

    Well if so, good luck finding a spot in law school that will leave you with only 100K in debt.

    ReplyDelete
  32. ^ isn't entirely correct either. Why would you calculate off of a 10 year repayment plan and not 25 (or 15 or 20 if you want to be ambitious)? Also, one will get raises throughout their career and at $55K the interest paid is tax deductible.

    Agree regarding the rest though.

    ReplyDelete
  33. "Also, one will get raises throughout their career..."

    This is no basis for this assumption. Actually for many people, the opposite is true. And as one gets older one has a harder time getting work period. It is completely unfounded to say that "one gets raises throughout their careers".

    ReplyDelete
  34. Agree with 12:57. Part of the new normal will be barely noticeable / infrequent raises.

    ReplyDelete
  35. If one moves to Canada and never comes back, can the US Dept of Ed still legally attempt to collect on SL debt?

    Or does one have to move to another continent?

    2nd question: Can the US Gov't prevent a 6 figure SL debtor from leaving the country?

    3rd question: Can a six figure SL debtor be placed in one of many private for profit prisons that seem to be springing up in the US now?

    It is all very scary, especially knowing how the US incarcerates more people than any other country in the world.

    And what better way is there to eradicate pro bono defense counsel in general than by strapping law grads with massive debt so that they cannot help themselves, let alone others?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know there was a recent article about fed gov getting aggressive on student loan collection in metro Detroit area.

      Delete
  36. @12:51 --

    If you can't think of a good reason not to calculate based on a 25-year payment plan, god fucking help you.

    ReplyDelete
  37. To 12:51: the deduction for student loan interest is capped at $2k/year. At roughly 7.5% the interest on my combined law school and undergraduate debt approaches $15K.

    ReplyDelete
  38. and the interest deduction phases out at somewhere around 75K for filing single.

    If you make enough money to pay an average law school student loan on its terms,you make too much to get the deduction.

    ReplyDelete
  39. the debt numbers are scary as fuck. even on a 45k salary, where it is really a 20k disposable income, the debt is going to be serviced for decades. throw unemployment into the mix and it's a wrap.

    ReplyDelete
  40. @1:04 Assuming you're serious...

    If one moves to Canada and never comes back, can the US Dept of Ed still legally attempt to collect on SL debt?

    Or does one have to move to another continent?


    If they can find you, they can try to collect.

    2nd question: Can the US Gov't prevent a 6 figure SL debtor from leaving the country?

    No. Owing a ton of money is not a crime.

    3rd question: Can a six figure SL debtor be placed in one of many private for profit prisons that seem to be springing up in the US now?

    See answer to #2.

    ReplyDelete
  41. 12:57,
    I guess if you're a total fuck up and never get promoted then yes, you probably won't ever get any raises during your career.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very little about your compensation will have anything to do with your skill. That's a myth.

      Delete
  42. 1:45: From an earlier post on attorney salaries in Alabama:

    A particularly telling statistic is that the starting salary for newly hired attorneys in 1998 in Alabama was only $44,100, in 2009 dollars, while the starting salary for newly hired attorneys in 2009 was between $75,000 and $100,000 (only the range is available for the latter year). What this means, of course, is that the relationship between starting salaries and salaries for experienced attorneys has (at least in Alabama) experienced a radical reversal over the course of the last 12-15 years. In the late 1990s starting salaries for attorneys in Alabama averaged about half of what all attorneys in the state were making, while today starting salaries are considerably higher than the average income of the state's attorneys as a whole.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The new attorney salaries are false.

      Delete
  43. I somehow think the relatively new privately owned for profit prison system is following the law school model as well as the real estate bubble model and the soon to be, and for a long time to come, the Obamacare bubble.

    The private owners in all situations are federally backed in some measure, and even sell public stock in some cases so that the line between what is private and what is public is blurred.

    And maybe that is it in a nutshell: There is no longer any demarcation between what is private enterprise and what is "public" and all are inextricably intermixed.

    Therefore polarizing political labels such as liberal or conservative just do not have any real application anymore.

    What is needed is a moral guide, but there are no more moral guides in this American neck of the woods because the Counterculture took away the Western Tradition's Canon or rather Great Books and tradition, and embraced a corruption of Nietzschean thought and are nihlistic. (Ergo: there is no truth)

    And so, Wall St. is now Washington and vice versa.

    On the other hand, the Ethnocentric cultures throughout the world are that do believe in some kind of a truth are watching us, and wondering about the possible demise of the Democratic American Experiment that Alexis De Tocqueville prophetically warned about.

    And the turning of Higher ed. into a mere hybrid public/private commodity to be traded in the marketplace must surely be a wrong turn; or, in the alternative, perhaps the commoditization of education and learning is a natural result of Jacksonian democracy evolved or taken to its natural and inevitable conclusion.


    I for one am glad that Campos has read King Lear in the face of so many that think a Liberal Arts education is worthless in the brutal marketplace of money.

    But maybe not in the market of fragile human ideas.

    Spank you very much :)

    ReplyDelete
  44. 1:45-- a lot of attorneys with 5-10 years of experience (or more) are lucky if they even keep their jobs today, much less get a raise. At the big firms it really is "up or out."

    If you work for a state or local govt or a public interest agency regular raises are not guaranteed (assuming you are lucky enough not to get laid off) and anyway those jobs generally max out in the high five figures. If you are in private practice your earning ability is directly determined by how much business you can bring in--something that for most lawyers does not increase indefinitely.

    As 1:49 notes the glut of law school graduates tends to pull down salaries for lawyers in general.

    1:38 PM--I think it might be a little more complicated than that. I have represented a number of people incarcerated for civil "contempt" (e.g. not paying a debt--it is not considered a "crime" so you have no right to an attorney, but you wind up in jail all the same). Debtors' prisons have indeed made a comeback in the US.

    ReplyDelete
  45. BamBam,
    Clearly someone with a starting salary of $55K isn't at a big firm.

    LP,
    I'm a bit confused. Entry level hiring salaries averaged $44K in 2009 dollars back in 1998 and now entry level salaries are $75-100K. So what is the average salary for experienced people in that data set?

    ReplyDelete
  46. If anyone around here is that ignorant, and still doesn't know about the great surge in for profit prisions in the US, please read:

    http://www.smallcapnetwork.com/Is-There-Profit-in-Private-Prison-Stocks-Corrections-Corp-Of-America-CXW-The-Geo-Group-GEO-Conmed-Healthcare-Management-CONM-Avalon-Correctional-Services-CITY/s/via/3414/article/view/p/mid/1/id/613/

    ReplyDelete
  47. I have represented a number of people incarcerated for civil "contempt" (e.g. not paying a debt--it is not considered a "crime" so you have no right to an attorney, but you wind up in jail all the same).

    But that's because they refused to obey a court order resulting from some form of due process, surely?

    ReplyDelete
  48. 2:23--yes, whatever "due process" they did get, which was up to the judge. One (pro bono) was a guy who could not work due to a head injury. He was indigent. Was locked up anyway. Another guy was on dialysis three days a week. Others had lost their jobs and had been unable to find enough work to pay child support orders. Also some had missed court dates when the notice was sent to their last known address (all that is required by law) and they had in the meantime moved. So they were in contempt for missing a court date they didn't know about.

    ReplyDelete
  49. 2:31,
    Did they request a hearing as soon as they lost their jobs or did they allow arrears to accrue? It's crystal clear in child support orders that you have to tell them as soon as your income changes.

    ReplyDelete
  50. 2:17: The average salary for experienced lawyers in the data set was $67K (23% were making less than $25K). I agree that the reported starting salaries may well have been inflated by self-selection problems among the respondents, but the study suggests compensation for experienced attorneys is deteriorating badly.

    ReplyDelete
  51. 2:40 no but these were not real sophisticated people and were no good at representing themselves (as is the case with most non attorneys). They had no idea how the system worked. They couldnt afford an attorney either (I took them on pro bono or for minimal fee).

    ReplyDelete
  52. there should be a post on the effects of students, including (undergraduate) accounting students, not understanding the difference between accrued interest and capitalization of accrued interest.

    ReplyDelete
  53. 2:49,
    If they can't be bothered to read the two or three page order awarding child support then I don't know what to tell them. Further, when you're subject to a child support order you're required to tell the court when you change anything (phone number, address, etc.). It's in the order and often in bold.

    ReplyDelete
  54. All other fields of law aside, the law school scam has to surely be spilling over into and hurting the overall society in the form of people unable to afford Criminal Defense counsel and thereafter turning to legal aid or others who would be in a normal world willing to work pro bono, but are too burdened with SL debt and therefore unable to help themselves, let alone spare the time to help others that might benefit from their abilities.

    I recall an old episode of the Barney Miller Show, or it could have been another popular 70's era TV show where a person badly in need of criminal defense counsel was referred to a young lawyer just starting out and willing to help.

    ReplyDelete
  55. All other fields of law aside, the law school scam has to surely be spilling over into and hurting the overall society in the form of people unable to afford Criminal Defense counsel and thereafter turning to legal aid or others who would be in a normal world willing to work pro bono, but are too burdened with SL debt and therefore unable to help themselves, let alone spare the time to help others that might benefit from their abilities.

    I recall an old episode of the Barney Miller Show, or it could have been another popular 70's era TV show where a person badly in need of criminal defense counsel was referred to a young lawyer just starting out and willing to help.

    ReplyDelete
  56. How does this impact an individual student? You take out debt with certain conditions (amount financed, term, interest rate). What the average debt for the law school class is meaningless. If I have to take out debt of 200K to attend GWU, why does it matter if the average debt is 125K or 145K?

    I'm sure it does matter in other contexts, but I am wondering what those contexts are?

    ReplyDelete
  57. Average debt figures influence 0Ls' efforts to predict how much debt they will likely incur generally and at school X versus school Y.

    ReplyDelete
  58. C'mon guys, just be smart about taking out loans.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/bernanke-says-taking-on-debt-can-increase-earning-potential-but-it-can-also-be-a-burden/2012/08/07/7038192c-e0cb-11e1-8d48-2b1243f34c85_story.html

    ReplyDelete
  59. LP,
    I guess my comment was with regard to the individual that starts at $55K. Again, the scope of my post was only with regard to a limited amount of the content of 12:42's post. I'm not suggesting it's a bright picture only that it be painted accurately.
    2:17

    ReplyDelete
  60. 11:22
    I did indeed! It took the sting away from losing the bet.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Thanks TD, I'm happy you saw it through.
    11:22

    ReplyDelete
  62. "I guess if you're a total fuck up and never get promoted then yes, you probably won't ever get any raises during your career."

    In law, in order to be "promoted", you have to obtain new business and be a rainmaker. Just being good and doing the grunt work won't get you much in the way of any "promotion". That is because with such a huge supply of lawyers available, the grunt worker is VERY fungible.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Right now, there ate two television shows that pretty much mock and make fools of poor people in America that cannot pay their bills.

    1. Is Repo Games

    2. Is Storage Wars

    We are all done for. The 1% has absolute control and has pretty much eradicated the spirit of American Law, with the eager help of the ABA and the US Congress.

    6 figure Sl debtors from law school have no chance at all, other than to flee the USA

    ReplyDelete
  64. I hereby nominate Brian Leiter as the next TV host of Storage Wars and Repo Games, and Pawn Stars.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Is BoomerHater ought there? He or she should love this. The Feds garnished the Social Security of over 115K retirees with defaulted student loans.

    So, Boomers suffer too. And the scam becomes even more hellish.

    Read and despair: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/grandma-s-new-financial-problem--college-debt.html

    ReplyDelete
  66. ^^^
    rather, out there?

    ReplyDelete
  67. Good work Paul & DJM

    I have a question though. Why aren't these schools compelled to report the total indebtedness (undergrad + law school) of their graduates? If the 4 years required to obtain a BA is a prerequisite to matriculation, shouldn't the debt incurred in obtaining the prerequisite credentials also be figured in?

    ReplyDelete
  68. 4:42,
    That would be a fairly useless statistic as it would vary wildly from person to person based on where they went to UG.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stats are rarely "useless" except to the untrained eye, which, let's face it, that's what we're talking about here.

      The whole point of statistical analysis is to explain variance between groups. Do you not think that it might be beneficial to demonstrate that JMSL or TJSL is preying upon glorified community college grads?

      Delete
  69. 11:47 wrote, "[Note: Sure would love the ability to do a bit of formatting in one's comment.]"

    What sort of formatting are you looking for, anyways?

    ReplyDelete
  70. ^^^^ just the usual: bold, blockquote, italics, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  71. 2:17 says, "Clearly someone with a starting salary of $55K isn't at a big firm."

    Neither are 90% of new grads.

    ReplyDelete
  72. 6:30,
    The comment was in response to BamBam's comment that big firms are up or out.
    2:17

    ReplyDelete
  73. LOOK ALL OF YOU, PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yop62wQH498

    The sun WILL come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar and all that. This problem WILL be solved by government. The ABA will MANDATE accurate job placement data. The taxpayers WILL stop funding scam degrees and breaking poor kids' backs with debt. THIS WILL ALL CHANGE. HAVE HOPE, HAVE FAITH IN THE SYSTEM!

    Of course that will take a decade or so. The change won't help you poor saps at all. You're all, "fucked" as the kids say. Sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  74. 4:42 asks, "If the 4 years required to obtain a BA is a prerequisite to matriculation [at law school], shouldn't the debt incurred in obtaining the prerequisite credentials also be figured in?"

    I see why you're asking, but IMHO the answer here is "no".

    Think about it - Consider the kid who decides to go to Cheapo-U Law School after having borrowed 80K to do his/her UG at HYS, and while at CU-LS borrows an additional 50K. That person's overall indebtedness (UG+LS) really gives a misleading picture of what someone might need at CU-LS.

    Another aspect is, the average LS indebtedness is of value (to the extent it is) to prospective LS students because they're looking prospectively at forward-going costs. They are already (at this point) pretty well aware of their costs from UG.

    My two centavos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand your point (see reply above) But in regards to your latter point, don't you think that you're assuming a somewhat non-existant "awareness"

      My antecdotal experience with 1L clerks in the boutique that I practice in demonstrates to me that these kids have no economic sense whatsoever. And I might add that I have yet to meet one that went to Walmart U in the last few years and paid "cheapo" tuition.

      But LOL at lemmings having any forward looking or prospective economic sense...that lack of economic sense is largely responsible for them embarking on the path to financial ruin.

      Delete
  75. 7:08 - thanks for clarifying. My fault for bouncing around indiscriminately through the comments...

    ReplyDelete
  76. I really gotta proofread if typing while watching the Olympics. Ug... "prospective-prospectively-forward" all in the same sentence... Need to go find some beers!

    ReplyDelete
  77. nobody gives a shit about your typos. there's like six people reading this blog max.

    ReplyDelete
  78. and two of them are BL1Y (he's fat). badump bump.

    ReplyDelete
  79. 7:26, did you mean to thank 7:21 for clarifying?

    ReplyDelete
  80. 7:40, Nope. Haven't watched its video yet. Assuming I eventually do so, and assuming it contains some clarifying material, I'm sure I will do so.

    7:36; wrong, I do. And according to yo mamma, I ain't a nobody. Seriously, who pizzed in your Wheaties today? Anyway, G_d bless and all that rot.

    ReplyDelete
  81. "and two of them are BL1Y (he's fat). badump bump."

    Hey, if we could get ol' Ellie May from ATL to come read, we'd quadruple the population.

    ReplyDelete
  82. Did you guys see the amazing story on CBS news? Law prof is quoted as Kyle from law school transparency?

    I can't get the link to work from my phone-
    Google top law school news .

    ReplyDelete
  83. I've seen the article, but don't take your meaning. Campos and McEntee are both quoted, separately. (Except they managed to mangle Kyle as "McEnTREE".)

    ReplyDelete
  84. Regarding long term salaries, @9:50, 12:57, 2:44....now we are getting to some truth....after 20 years in this business, I'd believe that median salaries for working lawyers (excluding the 40% of the holders of a JD degree who are not working as a lawyer) is somewhere around 60K, 65K, 70K per year. That sounds somewhat reasonable in my experience. You have an early bubble of those who get a biglaw job and are able to stay there for a few years that distorts the salary statistics of graduates for the first few years after law school. However, once the biglaw gig is up for the 80%, 90% or 95%, the salaries trail off significantly after that. As you get farther out of lawyering school, at 10, 20, 30 years, the earnings of JD holders goes down even further in general. As I have said before on this blog, I believe the statistics that say that the average lawyer salary in the US is c. 120K just as much as I believe that 9 month employment/salary statistics reported by law schools. The c. 120K is so far apart from the reality I know from scores of colleagues as to be laughable. Reporting such a dishonest figure would be actionable in court if decency prevailed regarding this law school scam.

    ReplyDelete
  85. LP and DJM,

    you should change the blog background color to gray because it is killing my eyeballs to read against such contrast.

    ReplyDelete
  86. wtf? turn down the contrast on your monitor bro

    ReplyDelete
  87. "Also a black background doesn't strain the eyes like a white one does. One reason for that is that the pupils in the eyes have to contract in order to look at a bright light .. relaxed pupils are open pupils."

    http://xpt.sourceforge.net/techdocs/misc/ce01-DarkBackgroundIsGoodForYou/

    ReplyDelete
  88. Okay, here's some anec-data about lawyer salaries after the first few years, from somebody who was a law school "winner" and made the big bucks for the first six years in private practice.

    I am now 14 years out and make a shade under $80K, but that is part-time contract work (i.e., writing briefs from home with pretty much no overhead). While it's nice to have work that allows me to spend time with my family, obviously I will never again find work at a law firm.

    We ended up moving overseas to my husband's home country because of the sweet, sweet national health care, free preschool, and subsidized child care. So we have a decent standard of living despite the fact that the U.S. double-taxes us. (I have to pay self-employment taxes in the U.S. as well as the social charges here.)

    But "not broke" is a little bit less than what I had in mind when I was killing myself in law school and at Biglaw.

    ReplyDelete
  89. All this sounds about right. Almost all the lawyers I know, with a few exceptions, make in the mid to high five figures. This includes those in private practice, and those who work for govt. agencies. I agree, the 120K average reported salary does not reflect what I see in the real world.

    ReplyDelete
  90. @8:26

    I didn't even notice they got my last name wrong...no wonder the flood of Google Alerts only include ones for "law school transparency" instead of my name.

    I've learned a lot from dealing with AP though. First, the guy who wrote it (other than screwing up my last name) did a ton of research and understood the big picture and small picture problems caused by legal education. Second, the AP stories really get picked up everywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  91. It is much better clear to me now about this law, it tells how it is very important to our students.

    ReplyDelete
  92. The lineament of your articles and listing is large.
    online application

    ReplyDelete
  93. The most flagrant mis-reporting school is Florida Coastal School of Law. They lie about the amount of their graduates' debt AND they lie about their graduates' employment statistics. If the truth were made known they would be shut down in fifteen minutes. What a successful scam FCSL is getting away with!

    ReplyDelete
  94. I've been wanting to go to Law School since I started my undergraduate education. Now that I have my BA I'm discovering that Law School is a huge gamble. Being in debt for years is not exciting at ALL. I've had a tour of the Law School and even sat in a class. I spoke with a friend who's a Lawyer that graduated from that Law School. He told me that Lawyers don't make much money and that I'll be paying debt for 30 years. He explained to me that this is not what the Law School admissions would tell me.
    The school that I'm interested in is the best Law School in the state. I feel very disappointed and upset about the reality of Law School. Damn.. Now I have to find another career. I'm glad I found out the truth before I started the Law journey. Thanks for your website. I don't want to be a lemming ;)

    ReplyDelete
  95. Wrap it in gauze and put it in the infected area. Because of its anti-fungal properties, it is also sometimes recommended for vaginal
    yeast infections. Apple-cider vinegar diluted in water kills
    yeast and provides temporary relief.

    My weblog: can you have Yeast Infection after hysterectomy

    ReplyDelete
  96. It is through urine and feces that we purge our body of infection.
    Nylon underclothing may also cause an allergic reaction in some woman.

    Candida bacteria feed on other weakened friendly bacteria in the human
    body.

    Feel free to surf to my site: recurrent yeast infection after hysterectomy

    ReplyDelete
  97. DJ spins out on Saturday nights. Anna had been looking
    through my phone while I was naked. The food is decent and the drink specials on Tuesdays
    include $2.

    my website; brainstormer pub quiz answers
    Also see my web site :: pub quiz austin

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.