Monday, August 20, 2012

Market failure

I had a conversation last week with a 2010 grad who finished near the top of his class at a second-tier school, and who has gotten run over subsequently by the job market for lawyers (graduated with $165,000 in debt, then things got bad and things got worse, I guess you know the tune).  We ended up arguing about the extent to which people enrolling in law school right now should be held responsible down the line for the consequences of that decision.

My view at that moment -- it tends to change from day to day -- was that anybody who googles "law school graduate employment" will find that the first 20 hits include 19 stories about how bad the market is for new law grads, plus one new "study" from the good people at the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law, arguing that everything is actually just fine.  (If I were at Miller Canfield I'd tell these guys that they may not want to push their luck quite this far, but I suppose Cooley has been on the outright grift for so long that this stuff comes naturally to them by now).

Plus at this point even the ABA Section of Legal Education has been forced to cough up semi-meaningful employment data, and a lot of law schools (about a quarter) have gone all the way and released their 2010 NALP forms per Law School Transparency's request, while many others have put fairly transparent numbers up on their websites.  In other words anybody who does two hours of research before dropping $200K on law school will discover how bad the situation is generally, and people who under these conditions apply to any law school that doesn't disclose something like accurate employment and salary data should realize they're being quite reckless, given how bad the data look at the large number of schools who have now disclosed such data.

My correspondent disagreed.  He said I was underestimating the general naivete of young people, and specifically the extent to which they've been socialized to believe that respectable social institutions don't just rip people off.

At this moment I feel torn between the two views -- between the view that at this point you have to be willfully blind to ignore what a bad deal law school has become for most people, and the view that law schools, even more than higher education in general, still have a huge amount of cultural capital to run through before the society in general really catches on to what's happening.

Part of what's happening here is an ongoing massive market failure -- although one that, given sharply declining applications, and to a lesser extent, enrollment numbers, seems to be slowly working towards at least some correction.  And part of that failure is that another thing young people have been socialized to believe is that "the market works."

One reason why people tend to believe the market works is because in many contexts it clearly does.  There's a scene in Pulp Fiction where a character is shocked that a milkshake at a restaurant costs five dollars (about $8.50 in present dollars).  He then discovers it's a truly amazing milkshake. ("This one's a little more expensive. But when you shoot it, you'll know where that extra money went.") That's a well-functioning market: if something costs a lot, it's because it's unambiguously better than a similar product that costs less.  And most of the time, we can rely on prices to accurately reflect this.  You don't go to a car dealer and find somebody trying to sell you a nine-year-old Chevy Malibu with 137,000 miles on it for $49,000, when a brand new Lexus costs $51,000.

Meanwhile:

Tuition and fees, New York Law School:  $49,225

Tuition and fees, Stanford Law School:  $50,802

141 comments:

  1. People use to go to law school with the assumption that 99% of people could get jobs as lawyers. Now that the ABA requires schools to report how many people secured jobs requiring a law degree things are changing and enrollment numbers at law schools reflect that. Given the Direction of law school applicants I don't think it is logical to say the whole supply and demand thing isn't working. The difference now is the ABA has made it more difficult for law schools to lie about employment numbers.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Getting stuck in Lodi is a better outcome than being in hock for life to the law school cartel.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The market for law school is working precisely how it should work when you have asymmetric information, a subsidized loan system, and an optimism bias in the people applying for law school.

    My wife just spoke with a nice economics professor the other day who was shocked that 2008 wasn't predicted by the models.

    Yeah.

    Those models work wonderfully for describing a certain type of economic universe. Unfortunately, that universe just happens to be one in which we don't live.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Cutting tuition would be an admission that the school in question is in trouble. They can't do that since it might undermine their prestige and rankings.

    Better to cut tuition informally by offering bigger and more scholarships.

    ReplyDelete
  5. another factor is that a lot of law school students are from families with a lot of money. $150K is not all that much for these families to pay for a "trophy child." These trophy children are getting a good return on the investment, but the return on the investment is not just in money. The parents get the return on the investment, but the return is in social status. They now have a child who is a lawyer. These parents are purchasing social status, not a salary that makes the $150K worthwhile.

    ReplyDelete
  6. 6:27 Continued

    I came acrossed in interesting video discussing whether to many people are going to college. This debate consist of four very smart well-credentialled people. I though it would be interesting to many of the readers on this blog.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VTQ-dBYSlQ&feature=related

    And one of the guys in the video, Peter Thiel, he predicted the dot com bust and the housing bubble. He now gives good reasons why he thinks we have an education bubble.

    http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/10/peter-thiel-were-in-a-bubble-and-its-not-the-internet-its-higher-education/

    ReplyDelete
  7. Higher education has *always* been a pyramid scheme. It's just worse now.

    Economic bubbles appear in asset classes and are credit driven. They collapse when they run out of greater fools.

    Education is not an asset class. You can't sell it on the open market. It's a problem that's causing immense pain, but it doesn't really help anything to call it a bubble.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is not market failure, because it is not a free market. The federal government supplying unlimited credit and subsidizing higher education is not a failure but a subversion of the market. If the federal government stopped subsidizing (and guaranteeing) student loans, this charade would stop immediately. Without a loan guarantee, nobody would give you a 200K unsecured loan.

    ReplyDelete
  9. JP did you read the article?

    Bubbles happen when people think you should buy a product no matter what the costs are. Like housing use to be, like dot coms were, and how education still is to some people.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I view both sides as right. Should kids pay infinitely more attention to what they are being told? Of course. But they are just that: kids.

    These people are conditioned to accept at face value the truth of the matter asserted by educational institutions since birth. What's worse, any deviation or independent thinking risks a mistake, which in turn, risks going on your permanent record (which ironically, might have actually saved you from law school!!).

    LawProf had an interesting statement several months ago regarding Vietnam casualties reported by the government. When he asked his old man where the government got the numbers, his dad beautifully replied that they "made them up."

    Awesome.

    This lesson escapes 95% of young people today. Myself included. I had to learn through law school that the world really does want to screw you at every possible turn.

    What is the solution? Who can say. Perhaps a better way is to screw all kids hard as early as possible for as little as possible in order to inoculate them against bullshit?

    At least then they are not enslaved with $150k of debt.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I don't think young people are as naive as the person you were talking to makes out. That's a defense mechanism that allows for the placing of blame on the institutions that he believed failed him. He could be right about that. But 2007, or 2006 or whenever he was thinking about going to law school, was an eternity ago in terms of the information age and situation with law schools. I'm not saying this to make light of it, but the scamblog movement, has reached the status of a fad. If there is anything young people in the country and around the world pay attention to, and latch onto, it is a fad.

    I'd like to see the evidence that young people today were taught to revere institutions. That sounds like something from the 1940s. The young people I know have a much more ironic approach to these things, to life in general, than generations past. That is good. I think, instead, many people who should not be going to law school simply do not know what else to do. All the talk on this site about alternative professions that are the equivalent of the land of milk and honey miss the point that the issue of how to employ young people will be a serious one for this country-- and many countries- for some time to come.

    ReplyDelete
  12. it's multifactorial: 1) bogus government statistics, which is the basis of the USA in many ways, just like all propaganda regimes, e.g., USSR, Red China, Oceania, etc etc; 2) bad information from the schools, calculated to increase applications; 3) grad school as a form of cruel, darwinian pseudo-welfare for the young who have nowhere else to go; 4) social status purchases made by well off parents who want a trophy child; 5)???

    ReplyDelete
  13. When you look at the situation from a sufficient distance, it can seem pretty reasonable to conclude that any allegations of law school being a scam just cannot be true. Otherwise, why would so many people being paying so much to attend each year?

    If you never did your own independent research on anything, and instead just sort of followed the crowd, you'd probably do ok for yourself in most situations. That's how I decide on a lot of purchases I make. What is everybody else buying?

    Young people know that art school or cooking school is a long shot and they know enough to be very suspicious of claims made by those kinds of programs. They know that because "everybody" knows that. I'm hoping that law school will eventually be seen the same way.

    ReplyDelete
  14. You are talking about a well functioning market in the context of non-profit institutions. I can understand why a for profit Stanford would charge more than NYLS, but a non-profit Stanford should be setting their charges based on their costs, not what the market will bear. Or less, as I presume they would have a lot more donor money to offset tuition than NLYS would.

    ReplyDelete
  15. 7:16,
    That's the problem with a non-profit, their costs are what the market will bear.

    ReplyDelete
  16. You need to add nuance to your "market failure" point. As you know, the "market" for legal education, and higher education generally, is massively distorted by the availability of unlimited federal loans offered to students with no underwriting discipline whatsoever because the loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

    If the federal government stopped being the sole lender, and educational loans were made dischargeable in bankrutpcy, the resulting underwriting discipline would force a market price correction for higher education that would cause whiplash.

    That's what the market for legal education would do if it were really allowed to function as a market. So the failure is not so much one of the market, but of the distortions caused by the (lets call them well-meaning) gov't interventions in the market.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Anyone who works in education at the K-12 level knows that the core value is, we are preparing our children for college. High schools are judged partially by how many of their students are accepted into universities. There is a premium placed on "college-prep" curricula. For those of us processed through that environment, there was never any other assumption than college being the next inevitable step after high school.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Two additional points:

    1) 'Market failure' depends on the time scale involved. When some history grad student writes a dissertation on this in 2074, it'll seem like a straightforward market correction. It'll probably take less than one 20 years for the realization and the purge of bottom-tier institutions to occur. When one is living through it, 'less than 20 years' is a long time.

    2) Second is the fact that this is legalized fraud. Law schools can say virtually anything, and judges will say 'you should have known better; you're responsible for your choices'. Unless the 'choice' was to produce fraudulent cost figures (counting only the last year, rather than the full cost of a JD). In that case, 'responsibility' is no longer a virtue.
    When the elites of society are participating in screwing one over, it's far easier to get screwed.

    ReplyDelete
  19. to be fair, he enrolled in 2007 and c/o 2010/2011 were the hardest hit years. on the other hand, he graduated near the top against a bunch of idiots at a tier 2 LS.

    ReplyDelete
  20. A.M. Warsaw hits exactly the problem with the current state of our educational system. Too many people being pushed into high school because teachers and parents think it is the only way to succeed. As commenters continuously point out, college's luster is fading.

    Vocational education used to be where the non-college bound students get funneled, but today it is now seen as the place for "stupid kids".

    My local paper runs a story every few months about the demand of high-skill vocational factory jobs (CNC Machinists). In order to do these jobs, you still need a year or two of training.

    It will likely take until the next generational shift before the full extent of the gamble of higher education is realized.

    ReplyDelete
  21. every time i feel optimistic about law school i just click on these 3 links and remind myself how the market works

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127601863

    http://www.sce.cornell.edu/ss/programs.php?v=PRELAW&s=Overview

    http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  22. It is a hard fall when you realize that the whole world is crooked, and everyone will ruin you for a nickle.

    Most K-JD have never had that fall.

    Stand By Me - Chris Gets Scammed

    ReplyDelete
  23. JP,

    Schools are trying, desperately in many cases, to sell themselves on the open market, both at the graduate and undergraduate levels. The better they sell their product the more they can charge for it.

    The fact that accreditation means that a body of study should be pretty much the same from accredited school to accredited school is lost on many consumers. Only in law schools is this status ranking taken to such insane levels.

    Meanwhile the good, decent kid across the street is majoring in mechanical engineering at State U and has a good job waiting on him at graduation. He does not know, or care, what a tier ranking even is.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I can vividly remember my law school calculus. I was 6 months away from graduating undergrad (2007) and I knew that I would end up making $35k doing excel work for the rest of my life unless I did something else.

    MBA required work experience, JD did not. School listed average income as $90k, 25%ile at $66k, and 75%ile at $110k. It was a no brainer, all I had to do was beat 25% of my class and I was still better off.

    So so so dumb. 100% my fault. Yet, if Law Schools told the truth and said, you'll be in the same spot that you are now, there is no way that I would have gone.

    Who spends $150k to make $40k?

    ReplyDelete
  25. "The market for law school is working precisely how it should work when you have asymmetric information, a subsidized loan system, and an optimism bias in the people applying for law school."
    JP, you are absolutely dead-on.

    Prof. Campos should be commended for his willingness to expose the role that law schools are playing in this mess, but his 1st-grader knowledge of basic economics is by far his weakest suit. It also puts him squarely in the middle of the bell curve with regard to law professors' economics acumen.

    The problem with law schools isn't that there is a "market failure" but that the market for a JD is successfully adapting, as one would expect, to a marketplace contorted by: 1) the student loan system and 2) the ABA's position as de-facto government regulator of the attorney-licensing oligopoly. Since loans have been discussed at length, I'll focus on the later.

    In almost every state, the ability to practice law (that is, the ability to provide a service protected by monopoly power) is conditioned upon the obtaining of an ABA-sanctioned diploma. In addition, only lawyers can own a piece of equity of this monopolized pie, because only attorneys can have an ownership interest in for-profit businesses that practice law (law firms).

    These factors combine to generate considerable economic rents -- creating a strong incentive to become a member of the cartel. (that is, membership of the state bar.) These factors alone will hold tuition prices above their economic equilibrium, creating significant revenues for law schools (and their faculty).

    Enter the policy-making role of the ABA, a cartel itself. As gatekeeper to the bar membership cartel, the ABA can chose to do one of two things:

    1) It could severely limit the number of seats at ABA schools (or the total number of schools) which would further limit the aggregate supply of attorneys, and create huge economic rents for lawyers. Over the last 50 years, the ABA has done enough of this to create a strong societal association between practicing law and making a lot of money.

    2) Alternatively, the ABA could counteract the strong demand for law school enrollment by expanding the supply (more seats) and raising prices (through senseless ABA accreditation standards), enriching the purveyors of cartel membership cards (law schools).

    Eventually, the expansion of the supply (enrollments) and skyrocketing prices (9% tuition increases a year), and a dramatic drop in demand for new attorneys (after the 2008 crisis), will completely eviscerate the economic rent that makes bar membership so desirable.

    This puts students in the undesirable position of investing a huge sum of money in a degree that is supposed to, but doesn't any longer, guarantee economic profitability.

    Further, since the ABA and law schools attribute their profitability to all the wrong factors, like how awesome their peers think their worthless law review articles are, and whether they have "the number-one scholar in the country on the Rule in Shelly's Case" on their faculty, they continue to charge full-steam-ahead into the economic-reality-iceberg. (see DJM's post on saturday regarding tuition increases).

    This system, by design, will result in a bursting of the bubble, aka a dramatic drop in law school applications (33% drop over 8 years, from 100k to approx 67k).

    Or, as Prof. Campos calls it, a "market failure." Right.

    -Publius Lex

    ReplyDelete
  26. There are some things you can't understand until you experience them. Paying back 150,000 dollars would qualify as one of these experiences. It's not real until you have to start making payments. Now, with IBR the reality of the debt won't hit them until 25 years down the road, if ever.

    ReplyDelete
  27. This post has it exactly right.  I used to be so pissed and annoyed at my fellow classmates who didn't choose the more careful "responsible" route like I did (lower ranked school for a scholarship and using savings and a summer job to pay for everything else) but now I realize that there are so many other factors involved - being 21 or 22 and clueless, a crappy job market where taking a chance at law school seems like a better bet than some horrid retail job, choosing etc etc.  

    There is an endless supply of people to fill those seats at crazy prices.  At the end of the day it is the schools that are 100% advantaged by the system and who have the numbers and choose to look the other way.  We can all laugh at the foolishness of new students but at the end of the day they are financial victims and we all know who the victomizers are.

    ReplyDelete
  28. @6:36,

    Of course, one can argue that Peter Thiel is a massive hypocrite as his own life path was Stanford --> Stanford Law --> Venture Capital, where he made his billions. VC has very few paths into it, and all of those paths require hyper-elite pedigrees, even more so then getting into a top Vault firm.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I may be a bleeding heart, but I put a lot more blame on the influencers--teachers and relatives--than on a 21-year old kid with a freshly minted BA in a liberal art who knows almost nothing of debt and the working world. The kids "down the line" will be suffering plenty--no need for social censure. The law school scammers are the ones who should be held responsible first.

    Also, it is fair to recall that this is still Year One of the age of accurate nine-months-out placement info. Moreover, the law schools are already spinning the placement info, witness the lie of the "big jump," as expounded by Dean David Yellen of Loyola of Chicago:

    "The thing that these statistics and these law suits don’t look at is how people are doing not one year after graduation, but five and ten years after graduation, and the studies that have been done show that lawyers tend to be doing quite well after a longer period of time.”

    –Dean David Yellen, of Loyola of Chicago (see video link below, at 10:32-10:48)

    http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2012/02/07/chicago-law-schools-sued




    ReplyDelete
  30. It may be year one in accurate statistics. It is not year one in information from other very public sources about the current state of the legal profession. That has been, at least, three years. That is why applications are down.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Lots of "no true Scotsman" arguments about markets in this thread.

    The market for JDs is highly dysfunctional. Claiming that it's not a "true" market is really no different than pointing out that it's failing, since a "true" market can never fail by definition.

    I've harped endlessly on this blog about the distortions caused by unlimited federal loans and information asymmetries (less politely, fraud). That *is* the actually existing market for law degrees, as is a market full of real human beings subject to optimism and confirmation biases etc. as opposed to Rational Maximizers of Utility.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thank you Publius, you posted my thoughts exactly. This isn't a market failure at all. It's an example of the massive distortions that result from massive government interference in markets.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Ive read many threads on TLS by students who want to take a year off to study and retake the LSAT. A lot of these students are pushed very hard by parents and other authority figures to just go to school now .

    I don't blame the students yet. Give it another few years for the truth to be blatantly out there. The schools are great at manipulating information and there is a lot of denial of reality out there.

    ReplyDelete
  34. 8:44,
    While I agree in all respects regarding the impacts of inaccurate information I cannot agree regarding the effects of a student's parents. Look, if you're 21-22 years old and you can't say "no" to your parents you need to take a hard look at what kind of man or woman you really are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some people think there will be huge wedges in their family if they don't listen. Some parents say things like: we will only help you pay for law school if you go this year.
      I think that ultimately the student has to call them on it but it isn't easy for everyone to defy their parents.

      Delete
  35. Paul, our entire economy is riddled with fraud from the top to the bottom.

    The bezzle always grows during credit manias. Then comes the hangover.

    The law school market has peaked and is now in decline because *credit* has peaked.

    This has all happened before. This will all happen again.

    ReplyDelete
  36. You know what's funny?

    My father was upset I was going to law school. He wanted me to get a job in engineering.

    ReplyDelete
  37. LawProf,

    I commented about this yesterday, but would you care to enlighten us about what kind of "golden parachute" a tenured higher ed (or just law) professor has?

    Doesn't have to be yours or DJM's specifically...just if you happen to know of what several colleagues have written in their employment contracts as far as what happens if the law school shuts its doors or the position is otherwise eliminated.

    In addition, what about the higher up administrators (this is probably even more relevant)?

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  38. They probably never considered the possibility of the school closing.

    ReplyDelete
  39. @8:49, I agree that it would be a particularly weak man or woman that is unable to stand up to their parents.

    But these are not men or women, they are children who have done nothing but read books for 21 years.

    They have not yet begun to "put childish things away."

    ReplyDelete
  40. If you still trust venerable institutions when you're 35, you have no head.

    If you don't trust venerable institutions when you're 21, you are one cynical bastard.

    ReplyDelete
  41. There was a time, not so terribly long ago, when it was normal to be married and starting a family and a career by 21. Now it seems we have cocooned our young people in period of extended adolescence to such an extent, that they are considered by many to be still "children" at 21, not to be held fully responsible for the consequences of their choices. What this says about the moral and spiritual decay of our society is utterly depressing to contemplate.

    ReplyDelete
  42. "Meanwhile:

    Tuition and fees, New York Law School: $49,225

    Tuition and fees, Stanford Law School: $50,802"

    It is true that a law degree at Stanford is worth a lot more than a law degree at New York Law School. But applicants need superior credentials to get into Stanford, whereas just about any college graduate can get into New York Law School. A person who is struggling on the decision of whether to attend Stanford (presumably after being accepted) will probably have other decent options for jobs, connections, et cetera, that the person can undertake rather than go to law school. One would think, anyway. On the other hand a person who is struggling on the decision of whether to attend New York Law School probably has far less options, other than their minimum wage job in retail. The latter person is more desperate, and therefore more susceptible to falling prey to wishful thinking and the special snowflake syndrome. Also dumber.

    ReplyDelete
  43. @9:17-- cute appropriation, but not true.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Scambloggers are an angry-at-the-world lot of people who are content living their lives on the internet. They do not feel the need or want to actually do anything with their lives. They expected huge salaries to be handed to them with little effort. A small minority (most scambloggers seem to have been near the bottom of their classes or did little work and a lot of internet surfing during class) of them did well in school. But doing well in school does not guarantee you a six figure job. Further, many scambloggers, like JDpainter had jobs that paid $40k+. Now, for a person who claims that his grades were so bad he should have been kicked out of law school, a job over $40k is nothing to laugh at. However, when JDpainter could not pass the bar, he did not seem to try looking for work in New York City (other than sending resumes blindly, which is not the only way to get a job). Further, JDpainter figured it would be better to hole up in mother's basement instead of do anything substantial with his life. He could have made his way into Manhattan, got a roommate and done some temp work or even doc review. But instead he chose not to do anything and whine about it. After his divorce, and even today, he could do something, but he does nothing. He can't even get himself to try to get his loans discharged due to a serious mental condition that is obvious. Why? He doesn't want to. It takes work, and most scambloggers, like JDpainter are done working. They want to whine about their lives, and the internet is full of people who will gladly whine with them.

    http://gotolawschool.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  45. Mr. Infinity...

    Keep fucking that chicken.

    ReplyDelete
  46. It hurts you because you know I am right. And it angers you because you didn't do anything about it before you were so jaded that you could not help but to blame everyone and everything except for yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I know others have already asked this but I figured I'd ask again in case Law Prof or any other bloggers have ideas.

    What career paths do you think are viable right now for people who had originally planned on going to law school that now realize it's a bad idea? I know there likely isn't "one size fits all" solution, but the blog on start up companies was very helpful and I was wondering if you have any others.

    This specific friend is smart enough to realize law school is a terrible idea and isn't going to go, but she still is wondering "What reliable career options do I have to get me to $60-$70K a year?" Assume she isn't very good at math and doesn't want to be a teacher or police office.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Aside from a startup - consider sales.

    You have to be good at it (like anything), but if you can close and dont mind being told no 50 times a day, you can make 70K pretty quickly.

    If you don't like that, you could shoot for entry level marketing positions, but those are much harder to get, they dont pay as well even if youre good, and generally (in my experience anyway) seem to gravitate towards very attractive young women.



    ReplyDelete
  49. Good grief, this isn't high school career counseling.

    Go get a damn job and collect your paycheck, then go home and bitch about it, eat a burger, and go to bed. Then get up and do it again and again.

    Welcome to real life.

    ReplyDelete
  50. "What career paths do you think are viable right now for people who had originally planned on going to law school that now realize it's a bad idea?"

    Let me help you out, son. First, stop reading these scamblogs. They are just people who are angry at the world for their lack of motivation, their inability to create and go after goals, and their incessant want for immediate gratification. If you want to do something, you can do it. If you want to do law school, by all means, finish it. Nobody should drop out in the middle because they read these filth-rags.

    There are many jobs a law grad or person with some law school can do. Government, Private Business (non-profits and banking are two that come to mind). Also, consider taking law classes that can transfer to the outside world. Law school offers many finance and banking courses. You could become a consultant, manager. The sky is the limit. But these people won't tell you that. They will just tell you how they could not do anything with their lives.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I agree with Mr. Infinity.

    Never saw such a bunch of whiny man-children. Especially in that post where all of you were complaining that 160K isn't enough to live on in Manhattan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You missed the part about comparing the $160,000 to the salary the 1985 grads had and what they could buy with that money. You also missed the part about the huge part of that money that goes to loan repayment. You also missed the part about people only having that salary for a short part of their career- possibly only two years.

      There arent many jobs, only 55% of all grads get jobs at all. I don't know how you can dispute that figure. If you have different data, instead of just a list of what you think is available, please post it!

      Delete
  52. Mr. Infinity is a joke, and a poor one at that.

    ReplyDelete
  53. but are the stats from the law schools and their wholly subsidiaries true or false?

    The answer is false.

    That is the crux of the problem.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Law school isn't worth the price tag, period.

    I say drop out, but do so because you've looked at the figures and determined that it isn't worth the price tag.

    You have to look at what your additional debt is going to be, what it's going to cost you in the long run, and how much additional salary (if any) you might get by finishing with the degree.

    If you use any realistic figures, I think you'll see that you'd be better off getting out and beginning to earn money now rather than wait, go deeper into debt, and likely not earn much more (and maybe even less).

    It is smart to take risks when the potential reward outweighs the risk. It is dumb to take big risks for small rewards.

    Starting off life with 6 figures of debt is a f'ing HUGE handicap.

    Avoid that if you can.

    ReplyDelete
  55. we have hurt them bad and they know it. And we are going to hurt them worse, and they know that.

    And so now they are fighting back.

    ReplyDelete
  56. @AUGUST 20, 2012 10:08 AM

    even better for the pretty females, consider marriage

    ReplyDelete
  57. I am working on my photoshop and lightworks skills, and over the next year I am taking this fight to youtube. And you aint seen nothing yet. I am gonna hurt the law school scammers BAD.

    ReplyDelete
  58. the high LSAT potential applicants READ. And so our blogs and comments have reached them. Hence the drop in higher LSAT applicants.

    The lower LSAT applicants do not read as much, and so fewer of them are onto the scam.

    That is why the next frontier of scambusting is youtube.

    ReplyDelete
  59. @10:19, who is she going to marry? All the boys are in her same boat: very few good career prospects at best, $150k of debt at worst.

    ReplyDelete
  60. LawProf,

    May I suggest adding a search function to this blog and the comments?

    It would help for research purposes.

    ChicagoDePaul

    ReplyDelete
  61. 10:34,
    I think he's referring to the discussion in the comment section of that post.

    ReplyDelete
  62. There's a couple of good reasons while New York Law School and Stanford charge the same:

    1. Supply and Demand - Of course the demand for Stanford is much higher, but the supply (applicants who can get admitted to Stanford) is much lower. Therefore, they're really not competing in the same markets.

    2. Scholarships - what is the effective revenue per student? I suspect that even with tuition going up, schollies might be driving prices down. Schools like high list prices and generous schollies since they can control who pays what. Also, allows many students to have presTTTigous schollies. And we all know about the stipulations.

    I really would like to see more analysis of the scholarship situation. I think schollies should be pretty much outlawed. Everyone needs to pay for law school - this will drive list prices lower. Also, the arms race for rankings for good students can stop.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Mr. Infinity,

    Probably a good idea to drop the condescending tone when your reading comprehension is as bad as it is. I'm not the one who needs a job, it's my friend. I know my own skill set better than I know my friend's which is why general advice would be more helpful for her.

    This doesn't need to be a magic pill, just something to get her in the right direction. She can do more research on her own.

    10:11,

    It's not that hard to connect the dots and see if you want to successfully persuade people from going to law school it helps if you have alternative options they can look into. I get your pissed off with your situation, but that's why she's thinking before she takes the next step. She doesn't want to end up like that if she can avoid it, and many people can.

    10:19 and 10:23,

    She is more than aware of the option to marry and will not hesitate to play that card if she sees a good opportunity.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Yeah Mr. Infinity is much more likely than not a troll and I gave a serious response. Damn it.

    ReplyDelete
  65. I don't think I have to find alternative careers for people. That other careers are tough doesnt mean that borrowing 6 figures of debt chasing a job is a good plan.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Surely we can grasp the concept that even what seems like a very easy decision to us (don't go to law school since debt sucks and job prospects are bad) doesn't mean everyone else will so eagerly agree. Some people who have always wanted and planned to be a lawyer might still think the decision is close. If they do think it's close, knowing what other career paths are available is helpful for encouraging them to make what we believe is the correct choice.

    Can we agree on the above? Yes yes? Then the whole "what other careers paths are reasonable options to people who always planned on going to law school" thing is pretty relevant to the law scam movement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you have ideas post them. I'm not a college career counselor. I feel that if I help just getting information out to 0Ls on TLS I am contributing. I can't solve someone else's career dilemma for them, I'm a lawyer, law is all I know.

      Delete
  67. Third Tier Reality is 3 years old today.

    Congratulations Nando!

    And as for Mr. Infinity: The reason I left my first job after law school was mainly because a rather well known Consumer Advocate and Attorney was all over the Company I was working for and had forced the Company to settle once, and then followed up with a 2nd Class Action lawsuit.

    That company no longer exists under the same management. They bought up all the outstanding stock not too long after settling a 4 million dollar lawsuit, an then sold the company.

    But I was long gone by then :)

    And I learned a lesson about cold calling for a job in general: It shows hustle and initiative, but you never knows who is going to pick you up and give you a job.

    And thank you Mr. Infinity, for keeping my memory alive.

    I might have to start blogging all over again since you are distorting my story and the facts :)

    And I will write a song on the banjo just for you, and post it.

    JD Painterguy






    ReplyDelete
  68. Every other career path is available, and most would be a better choice...what are you expecting to hear?

    ReplyDelete
  69. "Assume she isn't very good at math and doesn't want to be a teacher or police office."

    Anyone who is smart enough to succeed as a lawyer is smart enough to get good at math, if s/he wants to.

    ReplyDelete
  70. This is really a nonsense question... nobody can tell someone what a good career for them would be if they don't know them and they "think" they've always wanted to be a lawyer.

    Just send "your friend" here and be done with it: http://www.careertest.net/

    ReplyDelete
  71. Milkshakes? Is that what they called it back in your day?

    ReplyDelete
  72. The issue of whether applicants deserve blame is interesting to me at this point where we have transparent statistics and the scam blog movement.

    I imagine there are still people who are not actually seeing this information and I find it harder to blame them. The media image of a successful lawyer is pervasive.

    I do blame people who've seen this information but who think they're special snowflakes and become belligerent when people warn them.

    ReplyDelete
  73. @11:53 - I agree. The world is shitty enough as it is. Let the special snowflakes be lied to by the used car salesmen of the world. Public institutions should be held to a higher standard.

    ReplyDelete
  74. Good stuff, LP. And the market failure is even worse--the SLS degree is basically cheaper than NYLS.

    The real cost of degree at SLS is a little under 35k, once you factor in average grants. At NYLS you're looking at somewhere greater than 40k per year.

    And at SLS, grants are given by need; at NYLS, those least likely to have a chance to get a good job are paying the most in tuition.

    ReplyDelete
  75. If the problem is loans, why not work to do something on that front instead of spending time trying to make individual people do what you want them to do, and getting exasperated when they don't?

    ReplyDelete
  76. Turns out college is still worth it. Good to know.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/higher-education/analysis-2-new-studies-on-college-confirm-value-show-middle-class-carries-more-student-debt/2012/08/20/b73f55e2-eaf8-11e1-866f-60a00f604425_story.html

    ReplyDelete
  77. Mr. Campos, a lot of these posts get somewhat repetitive, but do keep it up. There's no other way. You probably have reaized by now that this will be the most important work of your career. This will define you. Your teaching and other writings, including attacking exagerrations of the dangers of obesity, will never begin to approach the significance of what you are doing here. You are more than earning your salary, so don't doubt that.

    You were in the right place at the right time. A prof from HYS or even a top 14 school wouldn't be able to do what you did because of the institutional blinders and personal arrogance that they have had. (I still remember the profs at Harvard a decade ago, including a current SCOTUS member, flippantly saying that Harvard could double tuition and still fill its seats, so obviously HLS couldn't be overpriced--it's a bad argument because doubling tuiton relative to other schools would result in less qualified matriculants, which would result in worse rankings and create a death spiral) Leiter probably already now realizes that he was on the wrong side of history on this thing when he tried to shut you down last year. Sure, he is more "prestigious" and more "scholarly", but he will forever be a symbol of the blindness of the tenured elite. There are probably an army of people who would welcome the opportunity to spit in his face later in life if we cross his path.

    I think we're about in the third inning of this thing. You were ready to give up this blog a few months ago, but the results started coming. We still need a couple more years before things get really exciting (law school closures, repricing, etc.). Please be patient.

    DJM, thanks for filling in as well. Have you guys considered recruiting additonal professors? Having 3-4 new posts a day would not be a bad thing for this website or the cause in my opinion...

    ReplyDelete
  78. and then we have this - http://alturl.com/mmxnf
    "Courts flooded with poorer Americans representing themselves"

    is there ANYTHING functional in our legal system besides how much white shoe partners get at the top off of everyone else?

    ReplyDelete
  79. I'm a k-12 teacher and I can tell you the pressure for kids to go to college is not coming from me, it is coming from public policy makers and then rolling down to districts, principals and schools. Rationally, each of these individuals (teachers, admin) knows that every student will not/should not go to college. But we're supposed to keep the pressure up on the kids. Part of this is for equity reasons--I work with low-income, minority, immigrant kids and pushing college is part of trying to get these kids to see themselves as future members of the middle class.

    This whole thing actually works well for schools because vocational-type classes are more expensive to run. Think of the cost between running a nursing program and running a teaching program. Nursing is far more expensive because of the staff/facility/materials costs. The same thing happens in k-12 schools. It's far cheaper to run an English class than a shop class.

    ReplyDelete
  80. I'm thinking of taking Todd Akin's strategy. I think the next time I miss a loan payment, I'll just tell everyone that I should get a free pass because I "misborrowed" and then just "mislaid". Would that we all were allowed the privileges of the most ignorant and high-profile among us. Seriously, is being the senile equivalent of a fucking spiteful, evil toddler a qualification for being successful in this country?

    ReplyDelete
  81. *and then just "mispaid" and then just "mistyped".

    ReplyDelete
  82. Turns out the scambloggers and Professor Campos are all wrong:

    http://gotolawschool.blogspot.com/2012/08/why-nando-prof-campos-prestttigious-and.html

    I gotta admit that naughty Mr. Infinity has a Jim Dandy, Crackerjack blog!

    Now, where is that rascally little ol' student loan promissory note for me to sign?

    ReplyDelete
  83. 2:11 P.M.

    Mr. Infinity (formerly known as The World Traveling Law Student)is a notorious shill for law schools. His blog reads like a Horatio Alger story if one of Alger's plucky Gilded Age rags to riches heroes were doped with a blotter's worth of LSD-25 and was burdened with a dull normal IQ.

    ReplyDelete
  84. 2:11 P.M.

    Mr. Infinity (formerly known as The World Traveling Law Student) is a notorious shill for law schools. His blog reads like a Horatio Alger story if one of Alger's plucky Gilded Age rags to riches heroes was doped with a blotter's worth of LSD-25 and was burdened with a dull normal IQ.

    ReplyDelete
  85. This is for Mr. Infinity.

    Don't worry, his poor choices in life will slap him around:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkCqSHwhKVg

    ReplyDelete
  86. Haha . . . ! From Mr. Clean's abovementioned antiscamblog blog:

    Ahem . . . .

    "I call him a kid because he acts like one. His comments are fowl mouthed and childish."

    Classic. Remember when that chick from the Amazing Race got the watermelon slingshot into her own face a couple of years ago?

    ReplyDelete
  87. W/ regards to this post, we often spend a lot of time discussing whether law school is a good deal and whether those who go are stupid idiots for going.

    Question for all: why is intelligence measured by the amount in one's bank account? I am assuming that the answer to whether one should go to law school and/or is an idiot for going largely rests on one's bank account and/or connections. In other words, we criticize the lower-income or middle class individual who goes to law school in this market because it is not a smart financial decision for him or her.

    However, if the individual is wealthy, we don't question his or her lack of judgment, as he or she won't have the same difficulties to befall him or her that befall the lower or middle class graduate. Same decision, different background - seems to make all the difference in assessing the intelligence of the individual making the decision.

    So, let's cut to the chase and just say what everyone is saying: law school should only be reserved for the rich, as it only makes sense to attend if one is rich. By extension, our legal system should only be accessible to the rich, as those are the only individuals who will be able to afford it.

    Whew! I feel satisfied getting that off my chest! A little clarity always helps us determine what our society's goals and values are.

    ReplyDelete
  88. Mistah Density - I am Your DensityAugust 20, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    "Mr. Infinity (formerly known as The World Traveling Law Student) is a notorious shill for law schools. His blog reads like a Horatio Alger story if one of Alger's plucky Gilded Age rags to riches heroes was doped with a blotter's worth of LSD-25 and was burdened with a dull normal IQ."


    And every time one of youse guys check out his blog, he makes money from ad revenue.

    He's laughing behind your backs, all the way to the bank.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are no ads on this site.

      Delete
    2. Oh you mean mr. Infinitys blog has ads! Sorry got confused by the use of "his" Never looked at his blog.

      Delete
  89. Education should not be based on market requirement or obtaining student loans.

    As long as the market mindset pervades, you will end with bad results.

    Certain areas, education being one, and health care another, are good markets because they bring with them, and always will, certain issues that prevent "rational" consumption.

    ReplyDelete
  90. Needs to be repeated: Every argument you are making about legal education is being made not only about college in general, but also high school education.

    In other words, the market argument is used even when we are talking about kids in high school. The result, a dumb population, only serves the aristocracy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No one is borrowing $200,000 of non dischargable debt to go to high school. These discussions are not the same

      Delete
  91. I think it's hard not to argue that there are two sides to the coin. As a soon to be law graduate at a third tier law school (top 15% of my class), I would never, never make the decision to do it again based on the economic realities and the debt , and there is absolutely no way I can avoid taking responsablity for a very poor decision. Yes, pressures do converge--family, scholarship offers that seem alluring but are really just a drop in the bucket in overall scheme, and, yes, unfortunately law schools that do not tell the truth and actively prey on the naivety of others. I do not think though, that being said, that the fact that I was a lemming negates the responsability law schools should take unless they want to overtly admit they are profit-driven mongorers out to deceive a new set of lemmings each year. There's something profoundly sad that one should have to be as supicious of law schools and law academia as one would be of a Nigerian scam letter.

    ReplyDelete
  92. @2:43 - "Question for all: why is intelligence measured by the amount in one's bank account? I am assuming that the answer to whether one should go to law school and/or is an idiot for going largely rests on one's bank account and/or connections. In other words, we criticize the lower-income or middle class individual who goes to law school in this market because it is not a smart financial decision for him or her."

    Because in it's current embodiment law school is a luxury good that is best used as a status symbol.

    Also, people generally need lawyers *because* they have wealth to protect.

    ReplyDelete
  93. "I think it's hard not to argue that there are two sides to the coin. As a soon to be law graduate at a third tier law school (top 15% of my class), I would never, never make the decision to do it again based on the economic realities and the debt , and there is absolutely no way I can avoid taking responsablity for a very poor decision. Yes, pressures do converge--family, scholarship offers that seem alluring but are really just a drop in the bucket in overall scheme, and, yes, unfortunately law schools that do not tell the truth and actively prey on the naivety of others. I do not think though, that being said, that the fact that I was a lemming negates the responsability law schools should take unless they want to overtly admit they are profit-driven mongorers out to deceive a new set of lemmings each year. There's something profoundly sad that one should have to be as supicious of law schools and law academia as one would be of a Nigerian scam letter. "

    The only reason this is necessary is because we have been sold the larger con that choosing to get an education means one must be subjected to market issues like "get a lot of debt"

    There used to a point where one could get a college degree and go to law school without incurring massive debt.

    ReplyDelete
  94. I am sorry- did someone just post- that the law, the freaking LAW, is a luxury good?

    Are you serious?

    Name one aspect of life that does not require an understanding of legal issues?

    The problem here is that you are equating "good" with market.

    All one has to do is to think of social workers (which my sister does for very little) or teachers (which my friend does for very little) who nevertheless had to incur debt to get their decreases to realize the problem is the idea that education is a market.

    There is more than one way to value something. The problem is that our society only uses one way.

    ReplyDelete
  95. that one way is the "consumer"

    are people seeking education to work in their profession consumers? or are they providing a social good?

    my sister who works with at risk teens to keep them from engaging in acts that could hurt themselves or others- is that a social good?

    if it is, its certainly not represented in the pay to her or the cost of education

    yet the way people describe education makes it sound like the only value is the market for something

    things can be valuable and still not be valued right

    ReplyDelete
  96. 3:02 PM

    I agree with your larger point; the law is not a luxury item. It is obviously a necessity.

    That said, when the law schools themselves, student lenders and Congress all treat education as a commodity and students as consumers to be mined for profit and nothing else, the only possible advice you can give to anyone until that changes is that you should treat law school like a luxury item.

    This might not be quite what the commenter above had in mind, but given the conditions in which we borrow, study and then, if we're lucky, labor, I can sympathize with his perspective.

    At some point, you will all come around to my belief (rejected here many, many times before) that there is a moral obligation on the government, lenders, the ABA, the schools and the professors at each of those schools that is akin to a lawyer-client relationship or doctor-patient relationship. These places should exist solely to serve the best interests of the students who, by definition, are ignorant until their trusted advisors and teachers make them enlightened through the service they provide to them. I've been saying this since this blog started, and, as I say, it hasn't been persuasive, but I would point out that that is exactly what Campos is doing whether he knows it or not. He is (and we are, through the scamblogs) providing the transparency that should have been volunteered by the fiduciaries we trusted.

    ReplyDelete
  97. At 55% employment with debt of $150,000 and an average starting salary of, what, $65,000, a law degree is a luxury good.

    ReplyDelete
  98. The problem with your argument 316 is that this argument is repeating like a virus throughout education, including, as I mentioned high school education.

    Its pretty much the argument used for all aspects our lives.

    It ignores something vital: Corruption and the long term impact all of this have (the every man for himself and let's ignore the bigger issue)

    If you want to tell someone not to go to law school, state its because law school shouldn't be a market, but is treated like one rather than "because it cost too much." The problem with the later is that it does not address the source of the infection. Its just treating a symptom because eventually that person is going to ask you "what should I do instead?"

    If the problem is repeating itself across education, what's your answer?

    Do nothing?

    ReplyDelete
  99. Repeating the cost does not make it a luxury good.

    At 250k, and whatever number of years of expertise to do it, a heart transplant is also a "luxury" good by your definition.

    Despite the assault by those who believe in free market for health care (e.g. attempts to end the best health care finance in the country right now- Medicare), we have net you devolved into arguing that a heart transplant is a luxury, yet your definition would mean that it is.

    So, we have something more to determining value than what you are saying.

    Is education a luxury good?

    Let's go fully into what you are prepared to argue.

    Are you saying education is a luxury good?

    If so, say so.

    ReplyDelete
  100. Why does reading the law still exist in some jurisdictions?

    You don't necessarily have to go to law school to become a lawyer.

    ReplyDelete
  101. @3:25:

    "If you want to tell someone not to go to law school, state its because law school shouldn't be a market, but is treated like one rather than 'because it cost too much.'"

    Yeah. I know. That's what I said.

    ReplyDelete
  102. 3:16
    I agree with you and i think some good lawyers will one day successfully argue such a claim.

    ReplyDelete
  103. Here's a link to a nice video that contains the point that the "logic of markets" (along with "science and technological progress") are indifferent to a substantive concern for the general good.

    http://afterthefuture.typepad.com/afterthefuture/2012/08/whats-the-end-point.html

    ReplyDelete
  104. 341

    That is what is said after I pushed the idea out there

    My problem with the discussion is that I should not have to push the idea out there that the market isn't the right model for education.

    THat people just quickly accept the argument until someone makes a stink about it.

    In other words, the "education is a market" is default, and you don't even think about it unless pushed.

    What do you think others who think about even less than you do are doing with it?

    I am not trying to be rude here. I am just reading all t he market, market, market comments above, and was responding to them with: Education isn't a market place. Its a value outside of the market or the ideas that surround markets.

    ReplyDelete
  105. @4:05 PM

    "What do you think others who think about even less than you do are doing with it?"

    Really? Fuck off.

    ReplyDelete
  106. And I didn't participate in all t he market, market, market comments above. I think I must be one of the most miserable souls to ever walk the planet to have such a nauseating ally as you.

    ReplyDelete
  107. Now that I think about it, there are two types of law students.

    The first set of law students are wealthy and are acquiring a luxury good on the Pathway To Greater Glory.

    The second set of law students serve as modern day marks for a multi-year long con.

    ReplyDelete
  108. 1992--My first year of teaching. I assigned Ibsen's "A Doll's House."

    In the beginning of the play, Torvald comes home on Christmas Eve with good news: He just got a new job, as vice-president of a bank. Up to then, he worked as a lawyer, and the family struggled financially.

    Student: "How could his family be struggling if he's a lawyer?"

    Another student: "He must couldnta been a good lawyer."


    2012--I assigned the play again.

    Student: "Why did he become a lawyer? He shoulda known better."

    I guess word is getting around. Or so we should hope.

    ReplyDelete
  109. 2:43, "why is intelligence measured by the amount in one's bank account? ... whether one should go to law school and/or is an idiot for going largely rests on one's bank account... we criticize the lower-income or middle class individual who goes to law school in this market because it is not a smart financial decision for him or her. ...However, if the individual is wealthy, we don't question his or her lack of judgment" (emphasis added by the anonymouse)


    Seems like the answer is staring you in the face, via your own words. We don't say the decision to go is dumb or not dumb, we say it is one or the other in the context of what damage the decision creates to that individual, giving that individual's circumstances.

    ReplyDelete
  110. "At 55% employment with debt of $150,000 and an average starting salary of, what, $65,000, a law degree is a luxury good."

    Shush JP - The Congress is ALWAYS looking for more revenues.

    Don't give them the idea that a law degree is of such value that the recipient should pony up (e.g.) a $15K luxury tax upon graduation.

    ReplyDelete
  111. Gertrude Stein said:

    "If a young person does not have a civilizing influence before the age of 25, then he or she will never become civilized."

    And so if a liberal arts degree is worthless, as so many of the commenters here have said, America has in effect become uncivilized as Gertrude Stein had worried about, if not regressively barbaric?





    ReplyDelete
  112. ^^^ The skies, they is a fallin'!

    ReplyDelete
  113. Presently, I'm enjoying a vacation in Destin, Fla. at a lovely condominium resort. This afternoon, I met and talked to a very nice, obviously successful couple from Birmingham whose son is starting his senior year at Wake Forest and is looking forward to attending law school at Alabama or Georgia or Vanderbilt. As we sipped our drinks, these sophisticated, educated people asked me which would be the better school. I ask them if they would be paying for it or would he have to finance the degree himself. They told me that after paying for Wake-Forest, their son would pay for law school. I ask them, if their son already had a job lined up---would he be joining his father in his property development business. "No", the dad said, "he has no interest". "Then, none of them", I said. I explained the job market, and that even if he defied the odds and went to what passes for Biglaw in the South, he probably would not make partner and if he did, there was a good chance the firm would collapse from its own weight and then, he would have a difficult time making a living ----certainly, not enough to buy a condo in Destin like his parents---bla, bla, bla---all of you know the script---I need not elaborate. They did not believe me. Not a word. I could tell. In fact, they seemed less interested in continuing further conversation. These are educated people. He is a property developer who graduated from Vanderbilt and she has a nursing degree from Univ. of Ala. -Birmingham. These are rational, smart people who probably are accustomed to gathering data before decision- making. And yet, they discount all data that challenges their belief in a law degree for their son. Yes---law schools still have that much cultural capital. If fifty something year-old parents don't get it, why would their 21 year old son get it?

    ReplyDelete
  114. I'm an adjunct at a high-second tier private law school and I'm constantly amazed at the disconnect that students have between where they say that they would like to have their career and where they go to law school. 90% of the students seem to want to end up in one of the five+ large metropolitan areas in their home state or a state adjacent to their home state. NEWSFLASH: GO TO A STATE LAW SCHOOL IN THAT STATE. I've worked at several law firms and the hiring policy has almost always been to hire in equal numbers from the local law school. Considering that state law school enrollment is generally below the next door private law school, stduents from the sttae law school statistically stand a higher chance of getting hired.

    ReplyDelete
  115. Can anyone explain why gyms are so fucking loud? Turn that shit down assholes I'm trying to work out. It's not a club you damn motherfuckers.

    ReplyDelete
  116. @tdennis239, can't save them all. you could show them this website but why? do you get a free condo?

    ReplyDelete
  117. @5:29

    A liberal arts degree is virtually worthless in this economic system. Liberal arts education is often lacking, reinforcing this "worthless" reputation.

    However, there is nothing worthless about studying the humanities, thinking about who we are (as individuals and as a species), and tackling those big philosophical questions. Liberal arts are very important intellectually and spiritually, but very hard to leverage into financial gain (and it's always been this way, just ask Van Gogh, Edgar Allan Poe, and a million other deceased poets)

    ReplyDelete
  118. The problem with dishing out advice like go to a local state law school is that it doesn't work for everyone. I was given that advice and I'm so happy I ignored it. I found instead my out of state law school coupled with my personal performance and personality opened more doors than I ever could have imagined. I say if you have a charismatic personality go to the cheapest and best reputation law school you can get into. A close by law school does help if you are one of the low % of folks that will have a chance of actually getting a permanent job offer before law school graduation (not many places are giving those out these days). I do recommend however to live in the state you want to practice during both summers and make connections in advance of summers to actually get real substantive summer legal work assignments (I never used or depended on my schools career service for this--I just called folks, and made connections). Of course it helped me to have attorney friends and relatives in CA to stir me along the way (legal jobs are alwasy an insider game). My legal department now only recruits local law school attendees for intern positions but so little of them actually get permanent job offers that their local law school status is a non-factor.

    ReplyDelete
  119. Maybe the ideal would be to encourage double-majors at the undergraduate level? Not only does the Liberal Arts grad need useful skills to become employed, the Engineer needs the Liberal Arts to become well-rounded and well-educated.

    Never happen.

    ReplyDelete
  120. It is astoundingly easy to double major in Engineering and the Liberal Art of Mathematics - a typical engineering degree is only one class shy of a Math minor to begin with.

    ReplyDelete
  121. Anonymous said...

    " Of course, one can argue that Peter Thiel is a massive hypocrite as his own life path was Stanford --> Stanford Law --> Venture Capital, where he made his billions. VC has very few paths into it, and all of those paths require hyper-elite pedigrees, even more so then getting into a top Vault firm."

    This is a requirement for right-wingers, like Santorum, with a BS and two grad degrees dissing higher education.

    Very much a 'not for you peasants' attitude.

    ReplyDelete
  122. Anonymous said...

    " While I agree in all respects regarding the impacts of inaccurate information I cannot agree regarding the effects of a student's parents. Look, if you're 21-22 years old and you can't say "no" to your parents you need to take a hard look at what kind of man or woman you really are."

    Not when your whole life has been grooming you for this.

    ReplyDelete
  123. I love tdennis.

    Another part of the problem is that people dont WANT to believe because the alternative is: wow, there pretty much is nothing that I can do to have a decent shot at an upper middle class lifestyle other than "get lucky."

    ReplyDelete
  124. Time, time, where does it go?August 21, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    "Maybe the ideal would be to encourage double-majors at the undergraduate level? Not only does the Liberal Arts grad need useful skills to become employed, the Engineer needs the Liberal Arts to become well-rounded and well-educated."


    MY UG in engineering was 138 hours. And, other than exceptions for URMs, we were required to graduate in 8 semesters on pain of being kicked out of the program.

    Included in that 138 hours was a requirement of a grand total of 12 hours of "sequenced humanities and social sciences" electives. And we got counted as having taken 4 hours of English Comp by virtue of having the English department grade our engineering lab reports and senior projects for composition merit (else the degree would have required 142 hours).

    In any event, as an engineer I was taking 17-18 hours per semester. Not much time to fit in a double major there. Not if they're going to kick me out after 8 semesters.

    Funny thing was, in my few non-core electives classes, I was surrounded by people who complained they were having a tough time finishing a regular 120 hour BA in "only" 5 years. Poor babies; 12 hours of liberal arts classes per semester was just killing them.

    ReplyDelete
  125. Time, time, where -- wait, THIS woulda worked!August 21, 2012 at 7:27 AM

    "It is astoundingly easy to double major in Engineering and the Liberal Art of Mathematics - a typical engineering degree is only one class shy of a Math minor to begin with."


    Yeah, if only my UG hadn't had some monumental 3-way dysfunctional pizzing contest going on between the engineering, math and chemistry departments. I had enough of both math and chem to qualify as minors (30 hrs each), but they refused to confer that status. It seems the engineering dept questioned the ability of the math dept to teach this one class, and of the chem dept to teach this one other class, so we took those classes from the engineering dept.

    "No (Math/Chem) Minor For You, Engineering Student!"

    ReplyDelete
  126. 12 hours of liberal arts classes per semester was just killing them.

    Between this fact and toddlers and tiaras, I don't understand why China doesn't just invade and get it over with.

    Game over.

    ReplyDelete
  127. What school would kick you out after eight semesters? Don't doubt you, just curious.

    I switched from engineering to Liberal Arts. I found the organic chemistry, calculus, German, and advanced biology courses were quite a bit more difficult than the engineering courses.

    ReplyDelete
  128. We learn by it. Ups and downs are normal.

    ReplyDelete
  129. For those extolling the STEM majors, be warned. Software engineering remains in demand, but it has a very rocky future. Due to the complete upending of technology every 3-5 years, there is very little value placed on experience in the industry at the software developer level. You are competing with a skillset that is buggy whip outdated every 3-5 years against new college grads with the latest skillset who will work for 1/2 what you do.

    On top of that, virtually unlimited H1B visas for technical workers means you will also be competing against technical wage slaves making pennies on the dollar vs. Amercian software developers. They have the added benefit that their work visa is contingent on their employer, so they have limited ability to hop jobs.

    There are still paths to the upper middle class lifestyle out there, but the current economic and policy climate is designed to make it as difficult as possible. I do not envy recent college grads.

    ReplyDelete
  130. @8:13

    I am sure you know, not all STEM Majors are created equal -- no different from Liberal Arts really.

    One issue is that most STEM Majors are as much a "trade" as law school.

    ReplyDelete
  131. "What school would kick you out after eight semesters? Don't doubt you, just curious.
    I switched from engineering to Liberal Arts. I found the organic chemistry, calculus, German, and advanced biology courses were quite a bit more difficult than the engineering courses."

    At the time and from listening to other guys I ended up working with, it was common across mid-western engineering schools like MN, UM, Purdue, UI, WI and Rose Hulman. Or at least the threat was - who knows if they really would have refused someone who was actually trying hard but just had some temporary issue. The only guy I knew who sought extra time was refused - but then he also played bridge all day instead of going to class and was at the bottom by gpa.

    As for what's hard and what's not, guess it just depends on how one's brain works. In this engineering program you would have in any event needed to take 3 organic chem classes including an organic multi-step synthesis lab which was fun (got to make an interesting drug in ~ 25 steps, but they wouldn't let us "test" it on ourselves), and a math series that started with several semesters of calc and went through differential equations and partial differential equations.

    Diff EQ I found tough and PDEs I found seriously tough - just couldn't seem to "get it". But one of my study mates whizzed through both, despite having floundered in an EngLit elective we took together. What I mean by different brain types. How can someone that smart overall have trouble with the development and evolution of the American horror novel?

    Can't speak to taking bio or German there since I got them "free" based on tests (not sure they would have permitted the bio credits if I had been a BA-Bio major?). But that did leave room for 2 fun semesters of classical Latin, which my podunk HS hadn't been able to offer.

    ReplyDelete
  132. @8:45 - Very true, but virtually all STEM majors are susceptible to outsourcing and insourcing. Like the misconception that all lawyers make lots of $$$, there's a pervasive misconception that technology jobs are in high demand and offer stable middle class income. In the past, yes, in the future, very doubtful.

    ReplyDelete
  133. There really is little empirical evidence to support micro economic theory. In fact micro theory is based on assumptions which clearly are false. For example: the economy is made of rational actors making rational decisions. The very existence of advertising disproves this assumption.

    People paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a worthless law degree is further proof that economic theory is pure ka ka. However, an economics degree is probably worth more than a law degree.

    As for jobs and opportunities which are more rational than law school, one just has to take off the blinders. For someone with a liberal arts degree, teaching may not be a bad option. Certainly, there are openings in medicine. Law is just an irrational choice.

    ReplyDelete

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