Saturday, August 18, 2012

News of the day

Many people thought law schools would freeze tuition this year.  As Karen Sloan writes in the National Law Journal, it's "Supply and Demand 101."  Law school applications dropped last year, and they fell even more sharply this year.  According to LSAC's preliminary numbers, cited in Sloan's article, 67,957 students applied for seats in this fall's entering law school classes.  That's down from a high of 98,700 earlier in the decade--a decline of almost one third.

When consumers disappear, many producers cut prices to lure them back.  But not law schools.  In 2011, applications were already declining: the drop last year was from 87,500 to 78,900.  Schools responded to that 10% decline in demand--enough to send most sellers into a tizzy--by raising tuition an average of 9% at public schools and 5% at private ones.

This year continued the madness.  With applications falling another 14% (off last year's total), schools raised tuition again.  Sloan visited the website of every ABA-accredited law school to identify tuition for the coming school year.  After calculating increases, she discovered that private schools had increased prices an average of 4% over last year, while public schools had raised in-state tuition by an average of 6%.

All of this during a time of very low inflation.  From December 2009 through December 2010, consumer prices increased just 1.5%.  During the following year, it was 3.0%.  Since December 2011, inflation has been particularly low.  Indeed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest report documents that prices in July 2012 were only 1.4% higher than in July 2011.  And that number is trending downward: Prices have been flat for the last three months, raising the possibility that the annual rate of inflation will be even lower by the time it's calculated in December.

For a somewhat broader view, consider this:  From July 2008 through July 2012, consumer prices increased just 4.2%, from an index value of 219.964 to one of 229.104.  That's not 4.2% per year; that's 4.2% total.

During the same years, average tuition at private law schools increased 18.3%, from $34,298 in 2008 to the $40,585 reported by Sloan in the NLJ today.  Average in-state tuition at public law schools escalated even more rapidly, a total of 40.1%, from $16,836 in 2008 to $23,590 this year.

What accounts for these extraordinary rises?  Deans refer to a variety of factors:  rising costs, legislative cut-backs, declining returns on investments.  Even collectively, I'm skeptical that these factors required an 18.3% tuition increase at private schools (where legislative cut-backs have little impact) or a 40.1% increase at public ones.

But that's not the point.  These factors undoubtedly have affected law schools, but they have burdened our students, their families, and their prospective employers as much or more.  Families who saved money to help a child go to law school lost plenty of cash on their investments.  For some families, their largest investment (a house) is still underwater.  Health care costs are higher for everyone, not just law school employees.  In fact, the mandatory health insurance premiums paid by law students warrant a post of their own.  Legislative cut-backs are decimating jobs in government and legal aid, leaving fewer positions for law graduates to fill.  Private employers have faced at least as much economic pressure as law schools, pushing them to cut hiring, lower pay, and rely on more temporary or part-time workers.

None of these other players have been able to respond by raising prices 18-40%.  The parent of a prospective law student couldn't say, "hey, I lost a quarter of our savings during the recession, and my health care premiums keep going up, so it's going to be tough to help with your tuition.  But don't worry, I'll just tell my boss to give me a 30% salary increase!"  Nor can legal aid offices around the country say, "gee, Congress keeps cutting our budget and we don't have much in endowment income.  We might have to fire another 350 attorneys.  But, hey, here's an idea:  let's raise our fees 25%!"

Law schools don't seem to understand the privileged economic position they occupy.  The very fact that schools have succeeded in raising tuition so aggressively during the last four years testifies to their economic power.  Protective accreditation standards, blank-check federal loans, and a treasured place as gatekeeper to the legal profession have allowed schools to raise tuition year after year.  Nor have recent increases simply been making up for lost time:  They come on the heels of more than 20 years of hefty tuition increases in legal education.

It's time for law schools to wake up and smell the burning toaster.  We have been raising tuition--substantially--while our applicants have been getting poorer and their job prospects have been dwindling.  We are continuing to raise prices as applicant demand falls.  These are not wise business strategies.  Worse than that, these actions are professionally irresponsible--in the old-fashioned, non-technical sense of the phrase.

Law school professors and administrators hold the keys to the legal profession:  We decide who gets to enter the profession and how much they pay for that honor.  Over the last three decades, we have continuously raised prices to the point where we take for ourselves most of the economic benefit conferred by a legal education.  For a growing number of graduates, we have exceeded that level; attending law school leaves those graduates worse off financially than they would have been without the degree.

We should care about those outcomes.  How many of our recent graduates still lack jobs?  Of those who have jobs, how many are earning less--after making their monthly law school loan payments--than they would have with a BA and three years of workplace experience?  How many are still floating from one temporary or part-time job to another?  What will happen to the students starting classes this month, who will carry even heavier debts at graduation than the students before them?  What will our profession look like in ten years, when so many lawyers are laboring under debt and jobs have become even more contingent?

This is not a matter of how we teach or what we publish; it is a matter of what we charge.  The market does a poor job restraining those charges, especially given the federal loan program.  We have to decide for ourselves--now--on the professionally responsible course.



119 comments:

  1. You are not first.

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  2. FIRST!!!11!one!1

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  3. forgot to click anonymous and it cost me those valuable seconds, damn!

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  4. The guy who commented, "You are not first.".August 18, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    Poor baby.

    And I wasn't even lurking here waiting for the post, just happened upon it at the right moment.

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  5. Donate back a portion of our salary and then ask the dean to do the same.

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  6. Are you really not going to include the number of spots being applied for? I think from a previous article it's been said there's 45K new grads for 22K jobs. So, if there's 45K spots and 68K applicants then demand still exceeds supply. I don't think that justifies the tuition increases but to suggest prices should have gone down because applications dropped seems flawed.

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  7. http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2012/08/law_schools_soaking_in_million.html

    Yet, John O'Brien told the Oregonian the following:

    “John O'Brien, dean of the New England School of Law and chair of the ABA's legal accreditation committee, agreed the new schools are adding to a significant oversupply of lawyers. But the supply-demand imbalance is not a factor the ABA considers.

    "It's not the ABA's job to police the number of law schools," O'Brien said. "Law schools are like other businesses. Ultimately, that's what they are. If there are people who feel there is a void that needs to be filled around the country, the process is to apply for ABA approval. If you meet those standards, you get approved."

    http://thirdtierreality.blogspot.com/2012/08/profiles-in-academic-thievery-john.html

    For $ome rea$on, this pig "forgot" to mention that law schools and universities operate off of the federally-backed student loan system. They are CLEARLY not operating under any semblance of a "free market."

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  8. Are Universities Immoral?


    http://www.forbes.com/sites/moneybuilder/2012/08/14/are-universities-immoral/2/

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  9. Nando,

    That's a remarkable quote from O'Brien. "But the supply-demand imbalance is not a factor the ABA considers." Wow.

    Congress needs to act. Law schools are cash machines because every dumb starry eyed world changer can sign up and get $50k per year from uncle sam to pay for the scam. All a school has to do to be profitable is convince students to take out debt. If you do that, you can make money.

    There is no market discipline because the price is not in dollars, it's in student debt -- dream bucks. Dream bucks do not become real bucks until the clock strikes midnight.

    this would not be possible if we had some tighter lending standards, but americans hate to say no.

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  10. This is why law school is a perfect scam.  They will always be able to fall back on the defense that their customers are voluntarily taking on this debt.  I don't know if people can't remember what its like to be 20, or just conveniently forget how, but there are reasons why 20 year olds do stupid things.

    There is no substitute for experience, yet so many believe that somehow "research" can subsitute.  Facts and figures cannot deter a 20 year old who has no means to appreciate them.  What they can appreciate is the wisdom of the crowd, and whether other people think what they are doing is a good idea.  As long as that remains true, they will agree to pay any price to go to law school.

    That's why I do think this whole thing will end in some sort of very dramatic "crash" type scenario.  This past year we've seen lots of coverage in the news about law school outcomes and that should continue into the next year and beyond.  The stories will get worse and worse.  Eventually some sort of tipping point will be reached where "everybody knows" that law school is a big mistake and then everything will fall apart rapidly.  But until that point, students will continue to sign up and agree to pay whatever everybody else is paying.

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  11. "Law schools are cash machines because every dumb starry eyed world changer can sign up and get $50k per year from uncle sam to pay for the scam."

    Actually, it's unlimited. The government will loan you however much the school decides to charge, plus whatever the law school decides you should spend for living expenses.

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  12. "It's time for law schools to wake up and smell the burning toaster. "

    Um, ... what?

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  13. Anyway, I'm glad we are back to talking about more, human rights, immediate problems, and not about how all the older, sucessful commenters lament about how they could have been more successful.

    To sum it all up: Unlimited, blank check federal loans cashed by greedy academics and all of their shills that are willing to aid and abet the destruction of the American Family with false dreams, and in so many ways.

    This madness has to stop.



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  14. The Law School Scam is, in a lot of ways, an intentional war against the American young and their parents, and against the American family unit.

    You figure it out.

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  15. Also, people forget how short-sighted 20 year olds are.  When I applied to law school, I was not thinking very much at all about my life as a lawyer, I was thinking about my life as a law student.

    Law schools are probably benefitting greatly from this recession.  For a short-sighted young person living with the humiliation of being a jobless college grad, law school must seem extremely attractive.  Not the legal profession, but just law school itself.  It allows them to move out of their parents' house and it alleviates their humiliation (while setting them up for bigger and permanent humiliation later).  They literally are not thinking what comes after, that's a bridge they'll cross when they come to it.  

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  16. Suppose that I wanted to build a school to teach graduate Entrepreneurship, Business, and Government. It is a degree granting program. Lectures will be conducted by Nobel laureates, successful entrepreneurs, business leaders, etc. A-List names.

    I probably could convince 20 year olds to borrow $150,000 per year to attend. I probably also could get them all to qualify for GRAD PLUS loans. And they probably could use IBR to limit the repayments in the unlikely event that they don't become Senators or Billionaires upon graduation.

    The funding source is such that you can literally charge whatever will pass a laugh test. Therein is the problem with law school.

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  17. "And they probably could use IBR to limit the repayments...."


    That statement is probably the most telling.

    Any law school with questionable transparency that recommends IBR does so at the risk of declaring war against the US taxpayer, and should expect jail time for its key people and officers.

    I recommend a trial with a jury of at least 6 people that have been harmed for life by the student loan scam.

    3 that are older parents that co signed for law school loans and are now having SS garnished, and 3 that are younger people drowning in Sl debt for the rest of their natural, post adolescent lives until the grave.

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  18. The scam is a straight ride to structural unemployment for all but a very small percentage of the people who graduate from law school each year.

    Those of us who looked carefully and went into a profession where we rightly believed that we could earn some sort of decent living have been just as scammed as the current generation of young lawyers.

    We have had our livlihoods taken from us by the law school scam. There is no other way to say this. The government needs to stop the flow of money in a way that benefits institutions who are milking the system and puts a large number of people, including mostly experienced lawyers, into long-term structural unemployment.

    THe only thing I can say is that if you are young enough, even if you have a lot of law school debt, you at least have the time to try to start all over again and do something else where there may be a demand for what you do.





    (Especially for 2:27)

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  19. "Law schools don't seem to understand the privileged economic position they occupy."

    Should read: "Universities"

    Higher ed can do this not just because it's supposed economic value has been oversold, but because it's moral worth is unquestioned.

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  20. "The funding source is such that you can literally charge whatever will pass a laugh test."


    I think you may be giving too much the benefit of doubt.


    Are LS COAs still passing the laugh test?

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  21. DJM, it appears we have been laboring under a serious miss-apprehension. These tuition increases surely reflect that the market for law school admission is stronger than ever before, and since consumers are rational maximizers of their utility, they wouldn't pay higher prices if the prices weren't reflecting the increasing long-term value of a law degree. Q.E.D.

    In addition, a rigorously scientific study of the subject by the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law has demonstrated beyond dispute that a law degree remains a superb investment:

    http://www.cooley.edu/news/2012/study_suggests_recent_law_school_graduate_employment_better_than_expected.html

    According to this analysis, unemployment among attorneys is almost unknown, and the legal field is, in comparison to the rest of the economy, positively thriving.

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  22. LawProf, You're right! How could we have missed this?

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  23. "In fact, the mandatory health insurance premiums paid by law students warrant a post of their own."

    Expose it, please.

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  24. "Also, people forget how short-sighted 20 year olds are. When I applied to law school, I was not thinking very much at all about my life as a lawyer, I was thinking about my life as a law student."

    So, you are trying to tell me that 20 year old's should not go to law school? The scamblog movement claims that law school is some kind of conspiracy. Your claims all end by stating, in essence, that there is no need for lawyers in society, and that law school is a losing game. If it was not for law school, how would one educate lawyers? You all have your 'utopian' ideals of mentors and practicing as you learn, but the reality is, that's NOT how it's done.

    Why do you all battle the system? Don't you understand that there are many, many individuals who want to be lawyers, who could have been lawyers, who would have lived great lives as lawyers, whose lives are changed by not going to law school as a result of reading these blogs? Not everyone ends up in a dire position, and chances are, if you are online all the time instead of out in the real world, you will not find any type of job, law or otherwise.

    In essence, some of you all were doomed, no matter what you did. Turn off the computer. Go outside.

    Nuff said.

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  25. @ 4:01 re: insurance. My personal experience: I think the school health care is a bit overpriced. However, it is a quasi-group plan, so it is guaranteed issue. Unlike an employer group-plan, however, it is unsubsidized (the law school picks up only part or none of the cost of insurance). If you are healthy, it's a bad option.

    If you are healthy, you should get insurance on the private market. (Problem is, of course: if everyone does that, the cost of insurance for the students who need it--with preexisting conditions--will skyrocket.)

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  26. @2:03 - "Are you really not going to include the number of spots being applied for? I think from a previous article it's been said there's 45K new grads for 22K jobs. So, if there's 45K spots and 68K applicants then demand still exceeds supply. I don't think that justifies the tuition increases but to suggest prices should have gone down because applications dropped seems flawed."

    Wow.

    And I mean wow.

    When I saw this, I realized that the entire law school system is about to be hit by a Mack Truck.

    And what happens when the number of law school *applicants* drops below the number of potential law school seats?

    The trend is clearly down for law school applicants over the last decade in a secular way (meaning more than one business cycle). People are increasingly avoiding law school in boom times and recessions.

    Law schools are never going to be able to respond in time.

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  27. I thing most of your colleagues would rather address far more immediate injustices-- such as the potential loss of faculty summer stipends at that citadel of legal training and scholarship, St. Louis University.

    mitsukurina

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  28. 4:11: For real. I'm coming to the conclusion that a lot of people in the law school business are just complete fucking morons.

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  29. It would be helpful to know how the mean amount students are paying has changed. The analysis in the initial post doesn't take into account "scholarships." Tuition could go up, but the tuition actually collected could go down. Now this would be another portion of the scam - discounting more desirable students' tuition at the expense of other students. But it's difficult to know if what is being charged actually correlates directly to tuition.

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  30. Hi:

    I wrote to Sean Hannity and told him about this blog.

    I also told him to tell his friend, Ann Coulter about this blog too since she is a lawyer that went to a top tier school.

    I also told Hannity that this blog probably gets more views than his online forum, and asked for his views on Student Lending in general and in so many words.



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  31. From the article:

    "University of St. Thomas School of Law professor Jerome Organ has been analyzing law school tuition and scholarship rates for 2006 through 2011. During that time, tuition increased by an average 36 percent while the average median scholarship amount grew by 45 percent. However, the increase in scholarship money last year wasn't enough to fully offset tuition increases, and Organ expects that trend will continue this year."

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  32. My guess is that schools are raising tuition because they can't afford not to.

    Profs, how are these schools funded? Is there any access to the general endowment, or are these "public" law schools mainly funded by tuition?

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  33. Mr. Infinity, at least in my case, you have it backwards: I believe in legal education and I believe in lawyers. I also believe that people who go to law school should have a chance to reap some of the benefits of their investment in themselves--not pay the full economic surplus up front to law schools.

    I have started to wonder whether *law schools* truly believe in legal education and preserving the legal profession in our country. Gatekeeper status and federal loans give schools the power to raise tuition, and they have done that very, very aggressively. But they don't have to play the game that way: They could choose to make law an economically viable career for the current generation.

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  34. I think a great deal of what has been said is true in terms of students just going to law school out of some sort of momentum or as an alternative to an undesirable entry level position.

    People have come to expect so much, and respect so little.

    In my grandparents generation (and to a slightly lesser degree my parents' generation as well), having a job, any job, was respectable. "Drawing a check" from the government was something to be pitied, and only the truly destitute, diseased or badly injured would accept help, because there was such a stigma.

    Now we have one hundred million people on welfare who laugh at "burger flippers" or janitors, while the "smart" people take on enough debt to buy a house (the former american dream) in order to avoid the prestige hit of starting an actual job on the ground floor.

    Heaven help this country.

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  35. I saw a segment on ESPN a couple of years ago about a football player who told everyone he was being recruited by some major division I programs. While he had received some interest and some letters from colleges, none had actually offered him a football scholarship.

    He staged an elaborate ceremony at his school on national signing day (the day that prospective student-athletes sign their "letters of intent" to attend their respective universities). He sat at a table alongside other scholarship winners from his high school and proudly announced he was accepting the scholarship offer of Cal-Berkeley to play Divison I football.

    The problem was, none of the coaches at Cal knew who he was.

    Eventually, the truth came out, and the young man said that he had just felt so much pressure after telling people he was being recruited that the lie snowballed until he was fabricating almost everything.

    Sadly, this is not an isolated incident and has happened more than once. "Signing day" comes, and if you aren't sitting at a table, pulling on a ball-cap of your future team, some folks feel like a failure.

    I think law school is like that. Tons of people start thinking they'll go, then tell others they're going, and when the time comes to make a decision and it's either that or sell mobile telephones, they virtually sign their lives away to continue the illusion.

    Pre-med weeds a lot of dreamers out of the med school process, and anything substandard that slips through those cracks, either the MCAT finishes off in the short term or the AMA finishes off in the long term by limiting the number of medical schools.

    Law school doesn't have any of those barriers:

    1. The liberal arts curriculum graduates anyone with a pulse, and law schools require no particular curriculum.

    2. The LSAT is really just a filter as opposed to a hard and fast barrier, since so many schools will accept such low scores to fill out a class, even when scores indicate those students have very poor chances of ever passing a bar exam.

    3. The ABA has completely abdicated it's role as a gatekeeper.

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  36. @DJM: "I have started to wonder whether *law schools* truly believe in legal education and preserving the legal profession in our country. Gatekeeper status and federal loans give schools the power to raise tuition, and they have done that very, very aggressively. But they don't have to play the game that way: They could choose to make law an economically viable career for the current generation."

    I think that some of the problem here is the same that's encountered in the health care field.

    For the last couple of decades, massive credit expansion has driven economic growth and everyone became used to continued increasing supplies of credit. Stocks went up. House prices went up. Everyone was happy. Life was good.

    In 2007/2008, the private credit origination system ground to a halt. This was replaced with federal credit (debt) origination.

    Law schools, like all of academia and all of health care, are still being supplied with fresh credit. They will continue to expand until this supply of credit is reduced.

    What appears different than health care/housing/general college is that the *demand* for the good, meaning the law degree, is dropping.

    I don't think it matters whether law schools want to "play the game". In order for there to be a game, you need students who are willing to play.

    It appears that more and more potential students are refusing to play, so law schools are going to be faced with decreasing demand for their services, which is going to force economic changes on them *by the (potential) students*.

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  37. 67,000 applicants is still way more than enough. In other words, you all failed at your mission because your'e losers.

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  38. If you're healthy don't buy the insurance. It's really that simple.

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  39. Actually, all other barriers notwithstanding, Bob Morse (of US News and World Report) could single-handedly stop this if he could simply summon the moral courage to do so.

    Require that for any school to be ranked, it has to submit the starting salaries of at least 90% of graduates.

    This should be easy. Big firms publish what they pay. Government salaries are published. You could easily add in part of the law school contract that a W-2 be submitted to law schools. in lieu of other forms of verification.

    Law schools will scream about their student's privacy. Nonsense. Car dealers and mortgage lenders require at least a W-2 every day of the year of their customers.

    Then they'll whine about not being able to track everyone down. Nonsense. Biglaw has websites. Many state bar associations list the work address of those practicing in state. Google. Facebook. It's never been easier to track people down.

    I've changed addresses three times since I've left law school, e-mail addresses more than that and phone numbers at least twice.

    I still get mail from my law school. I still get email from my law school. I still get phone calls from my law school. From their fundraising arm, of course. So it can be done.

    Next, Mr. Morse needs only to list the range of salaries. All the way up. Percentage (and raw numbers of graduates) making $10-20K, then 20-30K, then all the way up to 160K+.

    Remember, at least 90% of your class, or you're ranked fourth tier, regardless of your stats.

    So what about it, Mr. Morse? Would you like to change the lives of tens of thousands of future law school scam victims?

    Or do you just want to sell a few more magazines?

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  40. now you are appealing to the better nature of those in charge of law schools. In reality, though, and ultimately, they have no better nature in this situation.

    THey are just going to take and take and take. A lot of the demand for law school seats and higher education in general comes from that fact that immigration has driven american youth from the trades into white collar work. This is the last resort for them, a desperation play.

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  41. " I don't know if people can't remember what its like to be 20, or just conveniently forget how, but there are reasons why 20 year olds do stupid things.
    "

    like supporting obama. lol. couldnt agree more that 20 year olds shouldnt vote or take on 200k in debt.

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  42. I think that if US News provided the real salary data that they would sell a LOT more magazines. Imagine information WORTH paying for.

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  43. Well, although I'll look at the rankings from time to time, I only bought the book once. When I was a senior in college.

    If they publish the real data, fewer kids go to law school. Fewer kids going to law school means fewer kids buying magazines, I'm afraid.

    Although, if they did publish the real data and end the scam, I'd probably buy a dozen myself, just on principle.

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  44. The comment about it not being the ABA's job to police oversupply is incredible. The ABA committee he is on should include significant numbers of our type- scambloggers and unemployed and underemployed lawyers who do not allow the law schools to be funded with debt that their grads cannot repay.

    And economists wonder why the unemployment rate is over 8% and we have a spiraling national debt, notwithstanding these outcomes?

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  45. This is kind of OT, but what is the difference between the roles of the lender and the Guarantor in federal loans? (most SL bk discharge cases seem to be against the guarantor.)

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  46. DJM @4:35
    You say you believe in legal education and educating lawyers...

    "I believe in legal education and I believe in lawyers. I also believe that people who go to law school should have a chance to reap some of the benefits of their investment in themselves--not pay the full economic surplus up front to law schools.

    I have started to wonder whether *law schools* truly believe in legal education and preserving the legal profession in our country. Gatekeeper status and federal loans give schools the power to raise tuition, and they have done that very, very aggressively. But they don't have to play the game that way: They could choose to make law an economically viable career for the current generation."

    How can you advocate or believe in conferring one more additional JD degree when the statistics tell you that there are 2 unemployed lawyers for every 3 working in any capacity as a lawyer? Moreover, we are getting more and more anecdotal evidence which reflects my experience that a for a large majority of those "employed" lawyers, law school was still a bad economic investment. Respectfully, our society could get along just fine with the lawyers it has for the next couple of decades at least without producing any more. I advocate some forced closing of most of the law schools including yours and LawProf's and my alma mater. You have done too much damage and ruined too many lives already. In short, DJM, I don't believe anymore in legal education. It is a useless and superfluos education. There are way too many who already hold this education already.

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  47. guarantor guarantees that the loan (principal, interest, and all other charges like late fees, origination fees, etc) will be paid back to the lender. guarantor is usually a parent and the borrower is the student. if student cant pay, lender chases guarantor since guarantor said s/he'll be legally responsible to pay back that loan

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  48. no I mean the institutional guarantor:

    The DOE's student loan database (NSLD) says my lender is Duetsche Bank and the guarantor is ECMC (Education Credit Management Corp.)

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  49. Amen to this post.

    In addition, rising law school tuition doesn't just prevent lower-income individuals from going to school. As prices rise, graduates will be unable to work in low-paying positions that traditionally help low-income individuals, such as legal aid positions.

    This is no longer a problem that is simply affecting those deciding to enter the legal profession. It is completely destroying lower-income individuals' access to our judicial system. I am just wondering when the legal field will wake up and see how destructive this truly is to a democratic country whose very idea of democracy depends on everyone - rich or poor - having access to the legal system...

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  50. @12:29 AM

    "In addition, rising law school tuition doesn't just prevent lower-income individuals from going to school. As prices rise, graduates will be unable to work in low-paying positions that traditionally help low-income individuals, such as legal aid positions."

    That implies trustafarians will be working in legal aid positions (or other low income positions), which is not really a bad thing.

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  51. DJM, you do understand, don't you, that education, of all kinds, is not a commodity like others in the market, due to a variety of factors, including the phenomenon Wiliam Baumol diagnosed decades ago (you are familiar with that, aren't you?). In addition, increases in tuition at public law schools can only be understood in the context of decisions about public funding--a 6% increase might in fact representing a decrease in operating revenue, depending on state appropriations (which have been in free-fall for a quarter-century, and especially recently).

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  52. In addition, as you (or PC) has observed, the official tuition rate is not the actual cost of attendance, since law schools discount that rate with grants. News stories report, for example, that the University of Illinois awarded grants to its entire incoming class. That means we don't really know whether tuition has increased or effectively decreased at a place like Illinois. Maybe Karen Sloan did not notice these factors, but why didn't you?

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  53. There is already a huge surplus of lawyers at all experience levels. Adding to that surplus does not improve or bring down the cost of legal services. There is no unmet need for legal services for the middle class or the poor. Lawyers cannot work for less than minimum wage - that is unlawful. Many attorneys have zero income and no one is interested in employing them at any price. The demand is just not there for these attorneys at any price.

    The law schools are creating structural unemployment in the legal profession and in America. It is tragic for the attorneys involved. There is no way these degrees are worth the money even for free for most people and clearly not at the inflated prices the law schools are charging. Thank our ineffectual federal government for this loan scandal and galloping tuition, staring with Obama.

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  54. @9:38-- the ABA cannot get together and plan to take measures to reduce competition for people already in he profession. Why not, in the name of raising educational standards produce a cutoff for entry into law schools -- say 165 on the LSAT AND graduation from a top 20 undergraduate institution, with some allowances for people who go to state schools, but score 165? The ABA can't keep people out of the profession for the purpose of eliminating competition.

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  55. The ABA can keep people out of the profession because there are no jobs for them. If you look at the accreditation standards, that is part of their mission. They are supposed to be matching supply of lawyers with demand and to be limiting law school enrollment. That is why the ABA failed a number of standards as an accrediting institution.

    While the ABA should be reducing the number of law students, setting a cutoff of the top 20 undergraduate institutions is not in the cards. Many people come to a top law school from a low rated undergraduate institution. Many people from the top 20 undergraduate institutions go to a low ranked law school. That works out fine. It is in the numbers that we have problems, and those numbers can be limited the same way law school admissions are culled today, with however, a sharp reduction in the number of law school seats to bring down the oversupply of attorneys.

    One other thing that we could do is to prepare a 20 minute video with questions and answers at the end about the lawyer oversupply that every applicant needs to complete before putting down a deposit (or maybe before applying to law school). Make this onlne class mandatory for everyone applying to law school. Make sure they pass the test at the end about unemployment in the legal profession.

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  56. Anybody who thinks that if the cost of law school just came down, the unmet legal needs of the middle class would be served is smoking something. There are 22,000 unemployed law students graduating each year. There are no jobs for them, even at minimum wage. Many of these people would be delighted to work at minimum wage for a year so they could at least get some experience. The law schools have to pay stipends to get them work. The middle class is not willing to pay a dime for this work.

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  57. It may work out fine, but law in other countries is a profession for the elite. It could be that there, too and substantially reduce the numbers of lawyers.

    Okay, if you think the ABA accreditation standards mandate that they limit numbers to cut down competition...

    Believe me I understand the problem with this idea. But being a lawyer gives people the capacity to practice even solo. So, many lawyers do not have "jobs" in the sense you mean, and that has been true throughout history. You mean there is a shortage of work that would pay lawyers what they want to be paid.

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  58. No. There is a shortage of legal work for which lawyers will be paid even a dime. In other words, if all the unemployed and underemployed lawyers could hold themselves out to takers at minimum wage, they still could not find work.

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  59. Some of the demand is met by non-legal providers. Divorce at the simplest level really does not require a lawyer. In the tax and human resources areas, accounting and consulting firms do a lot of the same work. Unlike lawyers, legal forms providers, accounting and consulting firms are not subject to stringent rules prohibiting solicitation of clients and thus have a competitive edge over law firms. A lot of practice areas have non-legal competitors who can do the job just as well. This trend of moving away from lawyers is accelerating if anything as law schools raise the price of tuition.

    Many of the 0Ls are not doing their homework. Those who are doing their homework and enroll anyway think they will beat the odds. After all 55% for 9 month employment is a good odd, isn't it for three years of your life and in most cases taking on major debt? They do not know if the figure for employment drops or remains steady after that because there are no published numbers.

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  60. In the context of Supply & Demand, rising tuition prices, while related, are NOT the problem. The REAL problem is that law schools are producing too many graduates. If tuition is lowered, they just admit more students to make up the difference. As the tuition is lowered, more students are attracted to the profession in view of the cost-reward. Here's my solution, jack tuition up to $100,000 per year, admit only 25% of the current class size. This will allow the law professors to keep their unjustified salaries, fewer law graduates will hit the streets every year, employers will not have to be so GD selective and pay will rise for lawyers generally. In the final analysis, and having spent many years thinking about who is the actual culprit, I blame the current fiasco on a combination of (1) the Law Schools, (2) Law Firms (that demand a ready supply of disposable, dare I say fungible, labor, (3) the ABA and (4) the U.S. Government for allowing these shenanigans to go on. Seriously, the government could put a lock box on this situation tomorrow, but they're not. This begs the question, who's really in control here?!?

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  61. DJM and LawProf: What does it say in your contract about if you would lose your job? What kind of "golden parachute" is written in for tenured professors, I wonder...

    The point is, it makes perfect sense for the current administrators and professors to milk this gravy train as long as possible, as much as possible, even if it ruins the "profession," if they still stand to gain from it or if they are well protected.

    You are expecting too much of people if you think they will make career decisions based on what the "right thing to do" might be as opposed to what is in their own self-interest.

    If you don't stand to lose all that much, looking at the risk/reward of what's going on, then there is your answer on why tuition is going to keep on rising as long as students can continue to get loans.

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  62. There is a huge conflict of interest here - to have the ABA Committee on Legal Education headed by someone who makes his living off of the law school scam. In any other area, people with conflicts of interest need to recuse themselves. Here the ABA is allowing the oversupply of lawyers to be worsened dramatically because they are putting control of legal education in the hands of those with conflicts of interest. The ABA Committee should consist entirely of people who have no connection to law schools. People who are in legal education should be on a separate subcommittee, like lobbyists for the ABA.

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  63. For 2:25:

    I too wondered when I saw the quote, "It's time for law schools to wake up and smell the burning toaster. "

    I thought "shouldn't that be burning TOAST."

    After a minute's reflection, though, I concluded it was a perfect metaphor.

    Yes, the "toast" [law students] is burning, but the entire "toaster" [law schools] is on fire as well.

    "Toast" is being burned by the toaster, but the "toaster" has burst into flames and will destroy itself soon enough.

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  64. 5:59 am writes, "Lawyers cannot work for less than minimum wage"


    Might want to educate yourself on this particular point.

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  65. 5:59 am writes, "The law schools are creating structural unemployment "


    Also might want to look up the term "structural unemployment" while you're at it.

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  66. "This trend of moving away from lawyers is accelerating if anything as law schools raise the price of tuition." Law school tuition has very little to do with it. Truth be told there is now a big glut of non-licensed JD's (thanks to bar associations exam craziness), Paralegals, or Legal Admins that are being used more and more to help out with what was formerly attorney work. Of course these individuals get paid a fraction of the attorney wage. Many attorney tasks do not require law school education (as taught by law school) but on the job experience to learn (probably why President Lincoln made such a great lawyer). Such trend of hiring more and more non-lawyers for work that used to be done by attorneys is decades old at every international company I know, and I would not be surprised if it’s at some law firms too. Additionally you have those 3rd party online companies or We The People Legal services helping out too for the routine legal form and filing matters. The other trend is offshoring of legal work or collectively pooling legal resources so many legal departments have access to the same legal research resources by paying one monthly fee. So given the market trends and glut of lawyers in the legal industry, I disagree with Mr. Infinity. I think those which could have made great attorneys but decided to leave the profession due to information on the law school scam blogs are the smart ones which should properly encouraged to go. For everyone else remaining in the profession or looking to get into the profession they cannot ignore the "haves" and "have not" reality of the attorney career, especially that those who are in the "haves" today may be belong to the "have not" group tomorrow.

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  67. The top20 undergrad idea is terrible but an ABA that wasn't subject to regulatory capture could easily solve the law school problem by making the LSAT a mixed pass-fail test. You still get a score on the 120-180 scale, but anything below 155 is considered a fail. By this single stroke the ABA would cut schools off from those most susceptible to being conned by bad statistics and those least ready to become lawyers.

    It won't happen because of 1) regulatory capture by the scum sucking schools on the bottom and 2) the ability to cry "this hurts minorties," but it would be an elegant and profession-improving fix.

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  68. 9:51

    Structural unemployment discussion:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structural_unemployment

    In my mind, structural unemployment as described in the summary linked to above. is exactly what people who are trained as attorneys but cannot get work as attorneys are facing.

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  69. 9:51

    The point is that it is not lawful to have lawyers work for less than minimum wage and that there is not a demand for all of the recent law school grads, let alone grads of past years, even at minimum wage. That is why so many lawyers are working for free to get experience and why the law schools have to provide stipends.

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  70. 5:44 a.m., I think my last post (on BigLaw and BigEd) pretty clearly demolishes the Baumol argument. Law school tuition is going up much faster than even the top BigLaw salaries. And I doubt those salaries are simply matching the productivity of auto workers.

    Before making any Baumol argument, you should check the salaries of symphony musicians and elementary school teachers today (two of the categories originally mentioned by Baumol). Are those going up in the same staggering ways that law school tuition is rising? No. Why would the Baumol effect be working so much harder in law schools (and, to a lesser extent, in other parts of higher education) than in other segments of the economy?

    The answer is to look at two forces that any economist would identify as overwhelming factors here: cartel power (no longer softened by a sense of professional/educational responsibility) and government loans. I am stunned by how many observers simply don't want to acknowledge the impact of those forces.

    (For readers who are not familiar with Baumol's argument, see the usual source for a quick introduction: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baumol's_cost_disease)

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  71. @10:18:

    This is a new writer. I just want to let you know that it is indeed lawful to have lawyers work for less than minimum wage. There is an exception in the minimum wage law for professionals and lawyers qualify for that, so it is not illegal to hire a lawyer for less than minimum wage, which is why you see it happening.

    Is it extremely short-sighted? Yeah. When you force people to take on high debt in order to enter the profession and then pay less than minimum wage, you will lose the best and brightest as they move to other fields. We will also lose those who care about the system and want to make a difference, as we have made it too expensive for them to practice. But the legal field has never really cared about that, has it? It's all about getting as much profit in the short-term as possible, which is why only a few individuals - usually the ones who are hurt by it - are the only ones dealing with this issue.

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  72. "The point is that it is not lawful to have lawyers work for less than minimum wage"

    The point is, this statement is not correct.

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  73. "In my mind, structural unemployment as described in the summary linked to above. is exactly what people who are trained as attorneys but cannot get work as attorneys are facing"

    Apparently you can lead a horse to water but not make it drink. You can read the wiki you found yourself, but still fail to understand what you've just read.


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  74. "Apparently you can lead a horse to water but not make it drink. You can read the wiki you found yourself, but still fail to understand what you've just read."

    Then why don't you explain it instead of acting like an ass?

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  75. It's been a few years since I read Posner's A Failure of Capitalism, but his explanation of how the 2008 crash was the result of rational actors acting rationally would seem to be equally applicable here. His take-home (from Chapter 3):

    "Rational indifference to the indirect consequences of one's business and consumption behavior is the reason the government has a duty, in regulating financial behavior, to do more than prevent fraud, theft, and other infringements of property and contract rights, which is the only duty that libertarians believe government has. Without stronger financial regulation than that, the rational behavior of law-abiding financiers and consumers can precipitate an economic disaster."

    Granted, the vast majority of consumers of legal education today are not acting rationally. But law schools and the people who run them are. Each school is getting as much as it can for as long as it can, even if it recognizes that the result of law schools' collective actions is harmful to the economy and legal education generally.

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  76. I am preparing a post on legislative support and public law schools, but the numbers are complicated and it will take me some time. I want to analyze the numbers, rather than just repeat the broad assertions that public schools often make about declining support. The two most important points in brief are:

    (1) State support has declined, but not as much as many statements suggest. If a school says "state support has declined from 50% of our budget to 25%," that does not mean that the state has cut its support in half. If the school has increased its overall budget through tuition increases or alumni giving, the state support will decline as a percentage--even if the actual dollars of state support have held steady (or grown to match inflation).

    Careful listeners understand that, but many others do not. We need to look at actual declines in state support rather than at percentages of the law school budget. I definitely agree that there have been declines, but we need to characterize them accurately.

    (2) Alumni giving has skyrocketed at many public schools. There is a wonderful story from the 1960s of a public law school dean who returned an unsolicited donation from an alum saying "the taxpayers support this school--that is not your job." (Ah, the sixties.)

    The top public schools, like Michigan and Virginia, have relied upon alumni support for a long time. But other public schools started hiring fundraisers only in the 1980s and 90s. When assessing tuition raises at public schools, we also have to look at alumni support. If alumni donations have gone way up, then do those replace any decline in state revenue? Has it really been necessary to increase tuition to replace lost state revenue--or have alumni donations already done that?

    The latter point is particularly important because public law schools often point to declining state support as a reason for alumni giving. If alumni are giving more to replace state support and prevent tuition from rising, are schools following through on that?

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  77. Rather than talking about all other schools, wouldn't it be easier for you to consider the situation at your school? Trying to answer the question for "public schools" in general makes the problem way too big. An in- depth look at one school would be illustrative. Of course that wouldn't be enough, but could be the best place to start. Then add two or three other schools as case studies, and that would be enough and helpful.

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  78. "Then why don't you explain it instead of acting like [a jerk]?"

    Because I find it frankly baffling that an educated person can find for themselves on wikipedia and read (i) that a phenomenon is characterized by having open jobs available, but an unemployed workforce who do not have the skill for those jobs, and then (ii) think that this is an accurate description for having waaaay too many qualified attorneys for the jobs available.

    If that makes me a jerk, so be it.

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  79. Appreciating the hard work you put into your blog and in depth information you present.It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn't the same out of date rehashed material. Fantastic read! I’ve saved your site.

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  80. DJM @ 11:25,
    That's an interesting point regarding characterizing state support decreasing as a percentage of the budget. I thought they always just said state support decreased but now that I think about it I probably wasn't paying close enough attention to those statements. I'll keep an eye out next time I read an article on that.

    I will say the content on this site regarding law school budgets has kept me from donating a penny to my law school even though I'm in a position where I could.

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  81. @5:59 am --

    "Many attorneys have zero income and no one is interested in employing them at any price. The demand is just not there for these attorneys at any price. "

    I'd certainly hire an attorney for more than minimum wage to help with a case I'm working on. I'd want to know, though, that the person was good at research and writing. I'd probably want to see a writing sample or two.

    Is there a web site where one can find JD's/paralegals looking for short term assignments, along with writing samples? I tried elance, but it crashed my browser.

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  82. Look at description of minimum wage in California - seems to not allow lawyers to work at less than minimum wage, but maybe someone expert could comment on this point:

    http://www.nonexempt.org/exempt-vs-non-exempt/california/ca-professional-exemption

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  83. 12:42 - Just put the request in at your local law school placement office. You will get immediate responses.

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  84. Not an expert; just a jerk (or another word as someone above points out).

    Good point that local or state governments are permitted to have min.wage laws or local ordinances that exceed federal requirements. Many municipalities in the West and Northeast require min.wage significantly higher than the fed.

    However, the website you link to sets out whether or not someone is an exempt employee (e.g., whether you must be paid OT); it does not necessarily set out a rule for whether or not lawyers can be paid minimum wage (or less than).

    I see what you're talking about, though, with respect to part 3, which is a general statement that anyone making less than 2X min.wage can not be an exempt professional.

    But this leads to the conclusion that lawyers must be paid 2X min.wage in CA, else their employer is liable for paying OT wages as well. I hope this is not the case, as it might keep people from hiring a lawyer if they couldn't pay them more than $16/hr. (And yes, obviously one would hope a lawyer could pull more than 16, but for the guy who is really struggling, he might be happy to take 15)

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  85. ^^^ Sorry, forgot to say 1:04 directed to 12:46.

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  86. I drew what I imagine to be the supply curve for law schools producing student-grads here:

    http://www.adamsmithesq.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/l4fig04-1.gif

    To be clear, this is meant to represent how law schools' production (supply) of graduates responds vis-a-vis changes in the "price" (think of it as the mean or median salary) of those grads in the market.

    It's all part of a larger essay on "supply and demand for 1-2-3L's," which is here:

    http://www.adamsmithesq.com/2012/07/supply-demand-for-123ls/

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  87. Regarding structural unemployment -

    ""Then why don't you explain it instead of acting like [a jerk]?"

    Because I find it frankly baffling that an educated person can find for themselves on wikipedia and read (i) that a phenomenon is characterized by having open jobs available, but an unemployed workforce who do not have the skill for those jobs, and then (ii) think that this is an accurate description for having waaaay too many qualified attorneys for the jobs available.

    If that makes me a jerk, so be it."



    On the point of structural unemployment, there are open skilled jobs, and excuse me, but I think we are talking only about skilled jobs, not unskilled jobs, which in fact are available.

    If you are an excessed attorney, you probably do not qualify for the open skilled jobs. Healthcare has many open jobs but all require specific skills. There are jobs in IT, jobs for engineers, jobs for investment managers,jobs for CPAs, jobs for people with experience in specialized manufacturing industries, and there are always jobs in sales.

    You in fact may be a jerk if you went to law school after the internet was available and did not check out which specialized courses of education lead to skilled jobs and which are dead end. Law is unfortunately a dead end for many graduates. Having a general BA is also a dead end for many graduates without specialized skills.

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  88. 12:46 - this law firm website confirms some of the discussion above for California.

    So, if a lawyer's salary is not at least equivalent to twice the current CA minimum wage, they won't count as exempt.

    Still doesn't say what happens if one tries to pay a lawyer less than minimum in CA.

    http://shawvalenza.com/publications.php?id=56

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  89. 1:12,
    None of that really matters since most of the temp attorney type jobs are on a contractor type basis.

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  90. Most of the legal temp jobs are staffed by temp firms. The lawyer goes on the payroll of the temp firm. The temp firm pays the attorney more than minimum wage. Maybe some could pay less, but none do.

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  91. "You in fact may be a jerk if you went to law school after the internet was available and did not check out which specialized courses of education lead to skilled jobs and which are dead end. "

    So is the converse also true? I.e., if I went to LS after the internet was available, but have my UG and grad degrees in electrical engineering, and went into patent law, then I'm not a jerk?

    I'm not sure about this. I think I can be both a successful patent attorney who went to LS after the internet became available, but who also is a big fat jerk.

    Whatcha think?

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  92. "The point is, it makes perfect sense for the current administrators and professors to milk this gravy train as long as possible, as much as possible, even if it ruins the "profession," if they still stand to gain from it or if they are well protected."

    I agree with 8:25.

    I spent the weekend with some family members, two of whom work in undergraduate academia and are die-hard leftists. We talked about how neither political party wants to address out of control federal spending until they have to.

    I said the same thing is going on in the law school scam, and they told me it has been going on at the undergrad level for years. The difference is, it's harder to link an undergrad degree to a specific industry, so it's harder to say that an undergrad degree is clearly a ripoff (even though it is in most cases).

    Most people go to law school to be lawyers, so we can easily look at the legal employment market and decide whether the degree is worth it. Frankly, I'm amazed the applications have declined as much as they have given the supply of easy federal money.

    Like the Titanic, law schools will keep dancing to the music until they sink. I respect LawProf and DJM for wanting to reform the system, but I don't see it happening until there aren't enough warm bodies to fill the seats. I'm hopeful that this will happen within the next three years.

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  93. 1:09, sorry, nice try but the phrase utilized was "The law schools are creating structural unemployment in the legal profession".

    Open jobs in fields outside of the law are completely irrelevant.

    The law schools are helping to create long term generalized unemployment in the legal profession. I'm sorry if this regular old unemployment doesn't sound as fancy or important or scary (or whatever effect you seek to achieve) to you as "structural unemployment". But it simply is not an apt term here.

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  94. 1:26

    You have a specialized skill to fall back on, unlike most lawyers.

    We have a regular commenter on this blog who is a patent attorney. I am just quoting him. He says the UG and grad degrees he and his colleagues have are good. It is the law degree that he says is useless for many of his colleagues because the patent specialty in his area is flooded.

    Some other areas that involve patent law are still good according to other commenters on this blog.

    I would hope and expect that with two EE degrees an attorney can get skilled EE work, even if that person cannot get legal work.

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  95. 1:29 writes, "I respect LawProf and DJM for wanting to reform the system, but I don't see it happening until there aren't enough warm bodies to fill the seats. I'm hopeful that this will happen within the next three years."


    Hmmph. Right now, not only do we have enough bodies to fill seats, we've got more than 3X the need if we use the ~ 22K new jobs per year number as our guide. So you'd need to cut the current number of bodies down to about 30% of today. It'd be truly amazing if that happened in the next 3 years. But I won't hold my breath...

    ...and even if so, that normalizes the input-outgo equation, but doesn't fix the horrific backlog of barrista-lawyers.

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  96. 1:30 - The problem is that you in fact may need to retrain to get skilled work if you are an excessed lawyer. I know of people who went to the top undergrad schools, then went to law school, could not get work as attorneys and are now moving to another type of professional school. Those people concluded that they could not obtain skilled employment without starting on a whole new academic course of training for which the law degree is irrelevant.

    That is precisely what structural unemployment is. There are jobs and you do not have one because your skills do not match the open jobs. Unfortunately, the life stories of many lawyers today.

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  97. "So, you are trying to tell me that 20 year old's should not go to law school? The scamblog movement claims that law school is some kind of conspiracy. Your claims all end by stating, in essence, that there is no need for lawyers in society, and that law school is a losing game. If it was not for law school, how would one educate lawyers? You all have your 'utopian' ideals of mentors and practicing as you learn, but the reality is, that's NOT how it's done."

    Mr. Infinity... why don't you tell us some of your personal details and how great law school worked out for you. According to your blog you don't work for a law school. I'm curious.

    Of course there should be lawyers but it doesn't and shouldn't cost $40k per year to educate them. The non-profit ivory tower is enriching itself at the expense of its students. That's the problem.

    This was a win-win situation for many years. Now it's the law schools winning and the vast majority of students losing.

    "In essence, some of you all were doomed, no matter what you did. Turn off the computer. Go outside."

    This is funny since most of our work as lawyers is in an office at a desk or computer. Do you even practice law?

    I have been practicing law for several years and am reasonably successful, although paying off my loans has been and will continue to be a struggle.

    This isn't about me, or DJM, or LawProf being bitter about our outcomes. This is about the other half of my law school class that is now waiting tables or went back to their pre-law careers with an additional $150k in debt.

    Your post and blog is so naive it sounds like it is written by a law student.

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  98. "It is the law degree that he says is useless for many of his colleagues because the patent specialty in his area is flooded."


    This can be correct depending on case. There are many areas of patent law that were never very open. General Bio has always required a phd as price of entry for a new patent lawyer, and even then there weren't really many jobs available. Civ-E and IE were always pretty worthless for patent law (with or without advanced engineering degrees).

    Contrary, EE is still fairly good even for just a BS, and has always been.

    But then, a BA or BS in bio was always worthless, even as a just bio degree. One never had much hope of landing a good job with a BA/BS Bio. In the last few years it's just gotten worse, so some of these folks are running to LS in the hopes that somehow a law degree will turn a worthless bio degree into something saleable in the patent law field. It won't. It never would.

    In contrast, someone with an EE can generally find good work as an EE, and someone with an EE-JD can generally find good work as a patent lawyer.

    I'm trying to think which fields formerly enjoyed fair patent law prospects but no longer do, and for which the BS-only prospects are usually good. That is to say, which fields exist where an overlay of JD makes the whole thing just poison.

    The only thing I can come up with right now is the BS-ME degree. Any ME's that I run into who ask about LS, I send them directly to this website. Whatever they think their prospects as ME are, looking at hiring trends now it's clear that the ME-JD is NOT sought after. And 3 years in LS would "stale" the ME enough that it would be tough to run backwards.

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  99. Dear All,

    Please don't feed the Mr. Infinity troll. Also please don't go to its website. It's just seeking ad revenue. I doubt it even believes half of what it writes.

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  100. I think what people on this blog are saying is that going to law school is like going to Las Vegas, but with your life and career. The success rate will be higher than for gamblers, but there is a big risk of failure today for most people. If you can be a nurse practitioner or pharmacist at a lower educational cost and almost be guaranteed to get that type of work at a relatively good salary, think carefully about going to law school

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  101. 1:42, you've just turned all unemployment into structural unemployment.

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  102. I got my Computer Science degree in the 90s and got a job as a patent agent at an IP boutique. Passed the patent bar. Our main client's stock price dropped and our work dried up. I went to a third tier law school on full scholarship. I based my decision on the overall employment and salary stats put out by the law school industry.


    Graduated magna cum laude from law school. Could never get an interview for a law job, patent or otherwise. Went solo. Spent my life savings advertising. No calls. Went to work for the govt in a clerical position.

    The law scammers need to be in jail.

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  103. @ JustAClown

    When did you do these things?

    One of the inventors I did business with (in the dental industry) told me that it was *hard* to find patent attorneys. So, I think that there's some sort of disconnect between patent attorneys and inventors that's not present in the standard part of the legal industry.

    If I had the slightest interest in patent work, I would still be doing it and I think that I would do fine. However, my interest in doing that is about zero.

    Also, you have to be in the right technology. Looking at my most recent missive from McLaughlin, there seems to be a *massive* demand for electrical engineers from both corporations and law firms.

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  104. Time for a new sheet of paper and a new weekend (Sunday) post by DJM :)

    I think that what is needed the most around here is to prune the hedges, and to make a very simple list of 5 or 7 or 8 or 10 very broad and general things (and in order of priority) wrong with Legal Education and, by extension, the Legal Profession, and to post acordingly.

    For Example:

    #1 : Ruining human lives with debt

    #2: No legal Remedy for the debt such as bankruptcy.


    But to give in to pressure from within or without, and feel compelled to post too often about too many sub-topics will invite all sorts of useless commentary, although it is highly intelligent, and ultimately worthless in the political marketplace and in a practical sense.

    Said commentary being alomst akin to some sort of narcissistic dicta.

    My advice is to slow down the posts to one or two a month and to focus on the most pressing problems.

    Only you know what those problems are.


    JD Painterguy

    ReplyDelete
  105. Really? JD Painter suggests that the authors of this blog boil everything down to a short list of issues to be repeated ad infinitum. No, JDP, that's YOUR schtick, not theirs.

    ReplyDelete
  106. How about we as the federal government to put out serious grant money to STUDY this legal underemployment and law school problem?

    For all the wasteful and stupid projects of ephemoral or speculative usefulness, this would be a useful project.

    ChicagoDePaul

    ReplyDelete
  107. If it (ITLSS) ain't broke, don't fix it.

    ReplyDelete
  108. No one is forced to attend law school.

    If you don't like the high prices then don't go.

    ReplyDelete

  109. ====

    JP said...
    @ JustAClown

    When did you do these things?
    ====

    in 1990s and 2000s. Oh, right, I must have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    ===================
    One of the inventors I did business with (in the dental industry) told me that it was *hard* to find patent attorneys.
    =========

    That is because most patent law firms will not even take non-corporate clients because they are usually nut jobs. And if not nutters, then not worth the time and trouble.
    You would know this if you had actually been a practicing patent agent/atty.

    =====
    So, I think that there's some sort of disconnect between patent attorneys and inventors that's not present in the standard part of the legal industry.
    ====

    riiight...


    =====
    If I had the slightest interest in patent work, I would still be doing it and I think that I would do fine. However, my interest in doing that is about zero.
    ====

    I don't believe you. Go the F away.

    ==============
    Also, you have to be in the right technology. Looking at my most recent missive from McLaughlin, there seems to be a *massive* demand for electrical engineers from both corporations and law firms.
    -----

    Oh, there is just a huge pent-up demand, huh. Yeah, sure there is....except I know TWO EE patent attys who had to go into other fields because they could not get a jobs.



    ReplyDelete
  110. @1:36, I may be the poster you refer to.
    @1:53 and @2:30
    EE appears to be the only area of patent law that has not become totally flooded....but it is extremely crowded. There are plenty of EE-JDs who are unemployed or underemployed, especially the more senior ones. I know many Ph.D. (molecular biology, immunology, biochemistry and chemistry) and even M.D. J.D. holders unemployed in the patent field. For those Ph.D. and M.D. holders, buying a J.D. was clearly a bad mistake. There has not been much demand for Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering J.D.s for at least 20 years. Therefore, in many instances, the underlying degree, EE, PhD chemistry, etc. was fine, but the law degree functioned to neutralize that first degree and put the person in worse shape than they would have been in had they not bought the law degree.

    ReplyDelete
  111. @AUGUST 19, 2012 10:07 AM

    yes. regulatory capture and the minority card are major issues. throw in government loans and the concept of "good debt" and it's a situation ripe for abuse. it is akin to the housing fallout. the only thing missing that can make it worse is the implementation of financial derivatives on the value of a lawyer.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  113. Sean Spencer:

    It is getting annoying to read how many of the somewhat older commenters around here (that did OK by the system) lament about not being even more successful than they already are.

    Those kinds of comments would stop if the posts were more about 6 figure student loan debt, and how that debt ruins young lives in the absence of consumer bankruptcy protections.

    For instance: telling a young six figure debtor to get family members to borrow against their homes so as to bail the debtor out assumes that the current day student lending system is somehow fair and moral and needs no reform.

    And I'm sorry, I have a hard time feeling sorry for those that complain about the injustices of biglaw and biglaw salaries, or about hard life is for the poor HYS rejects slumming among us and looking for our sympathies because they don't have enough flyer miles, or won't be able to afford that expensive vacation this year etc.



    ReplyDelete
  114. The issue with patent law may also have to do with experience. I got a significant amount of experience early in my career working with aircraft engine patents and industrial burners.

    Two years ago, I contacted a specific partner about working as a patent attorney. He had just had to toss out one of his associates because he couldn't pass the patent bar. He would have given the job to me immediately had I had the appropriate technical background in electrical engineering.

    They are just my experiences. Other people have different experiences.

    And with respect to working, I'm not saying that I would generate a six figure income, merely that I could work as a patent attorney. Perhaps I would only make $40,000, but I would still probably be able to self-employ.

    Patent work is not obtained through advertising because you don't reach the appropriate suppliers of work. You might get a lot of independent inventors who can't pay.

    ReplyDelete
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