Sunday, September 2, 2012

Labor day

Updated Below

In honor of Labor Day, let's revisit some data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. LawProf has featured these numbers before, but they bear repeating. Why not mark Labor Day by sending this information to law professors and deans you know?
  • The BLS estimates that between 2010 and 2020, the United States economy will provide 218,800 job openings for lawyers and judicial law clerks.  That's 21,880 openings per year.   
  • The projected openings include labor force departures, as well as new jobs. The estimate, in other words, accounts for the fact that many baby boomers will leave the workforce this decade; that some parents will relinquish jobs to raise children; and that some practicing lawyers will seek other work.   
  • The BLS bases its predictions on econometric models, together with continuous monitoring of the workplace. The projection of 21,880 lawyer jobs per year stems from knowledgeable labor economists; scholars should take that estimate seriously.
  • BLS bases its projections on normal 10-year business cycles. In doing that, the BLS recognizes that its 2020 projections may overstate job openings. That is because "the severity of the most recent recession and the slowness of recovery to date" signal departures from the norm. 21,880 lawyer jobs per year is an optimistic estimate.
Now let's consider some statistics from the American Bar Association:
  • In 2010, law schools awarded 44,004 JDs; in 2011, the number rose to 44,258; and in 2012, it was 44,495. Three years into the decade, schools have graduated 132,757 JDs--enough to fill 61% of the lawyer jobs available for the full decade.
  • The class of 2013 is on track to be even larger: 52,488 first-years began law school in fall 2010. Using the graduation rate displayed by the class of 2012, at least 45,220 of our current 3Ls will claim diplomas by May. That will bring us up to 177,977 new JDs in just four years.
  • Law schools cut enrollment for the class of 2014 by about 7%. Some 42,055 students are likely to graduate in 2014, bringing the five-year JD total to 220,132--already more than the 218,800 job openings predicted for the entire decade. And there are still five years to go!
  • We don't know enrollment numbers yet for the class of 2015, the group that started law school this fall. Let's assume that schools cut another 13% off their peak, producing a class 20% smaller than the class of 2013.  That would add just 36,176 more JDs to the workforce in 2015.
  • How many students will law schools enroll for the classes of 2016-2019?  Many will strive to enroll more than they did for the class of 2015; a 20% drop in tuition revenue is hard to stomach. But let's assume, conservatively, that overall graduation rates remain steady at 36,176 per year through 2019. 
  • Even at that rate, law schools will finish the decade by graduating a total of 401,012 JDs in the classes of 2010 through 2019. That's 182,212 graduates more than the number of jobs available.  And that estimate is quite conservative. It assumes that law schools will maintain greatly reduced class sizes through 2019. It also assumes that no pre-2010 graduate will enter the legal market from unemployment or another occupation. 

This is an expensive, high-stakes game of musical chairs. What are more than 180,000 law school graduates going to do with their JDs if they can't practice law? How are they going to pay off the JD-sized debts they carry? More about that, as well as lawyer salaries, soon.

Update: LawProf reminded me about two types of lawyers omitted from these calculations: JD graduates of unaccredited schools and foreign-trained lawyers who pass U.S. bar exams. The National Conference of Bar Examiners has some data on these groups. If you check page 11 of that document, you'll see that 804 graduates of unaccredited law schools passed the bar exam in 2011, as did 1,708 graduates of foreign law schools.

I think the latter category is likely to grow over the next decade, especially if U.S. law schools attempt to prop up their budgets by offering more LLMs to foreign students. But being conservative, as I have been throughout this post, we can apply 2011's total to each year in the decade. That adds another 2,512 lawyers a year--or 25,120 for the decade--competing for 218,800 job openings.

More than 426,000 law graduates (estimated conservatively) competing for just 218,800 jobs. Next up, although this may take me a few days: What kind of jobs are these anyway? And what do they pay?

80 comments:

  1. I agree way more JDs are being printed off then are needed, but we also need to factor in attrition. 6,000 or more of the incoming students will either drop out or flunk out before they graduate. Also the attrition number could actually rise as schools are lowering their admission standards. Good post.

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  2. J.D. Attrition

    http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/legal_education_and_admissions_to_the_bar/statistics/jd_attrition.authcheckdam.pdf

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  3. I think I've already factored in attrition, because I used actual graduation rates for 2010-2012. Then for 2013, I discounted the number of entering students (52,488) by the same attrition percentage observed in the class of 2012. That calculation yielded attrition of 7,268 students--more than any other class has seen so far. I did the same for 2014, and my estimates for the remaining years incorporate those discounts. So I think these estimates fully account for attrition. Sorry for all the math in this post, by the way.

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    1. Ok DJM, I just read through it quickly. Everything looks good. I am curious to know what is you opinion on what do you think is going to happen to enrollment in law schools in the short and medium term. Say 5-20 years. Do you think it is just going to flatten out, or are we going to see more of a 1-5% decline a year for a long time? Or might the decline even accelerate? I'm assuming law schools are going to continue raising tuition 5-10% a year.

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  4. Young people will continue to be lured into law school thanks to the election platitudes offered by "Mr. Hope and Change." By continuing to say moronic statements such as "higher education is the key" or "a law career's rewards are measured over a career span of 40-50 years," college grads will continue to recklessly gamble their futures into the law school scam. This scam is a modern day Goliath while scamblogs are the David. I hope David prevails but if Obama gets reelected thanks to the youth vote, then there is no hope for America or defeating this scam.

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    1. Not sure if serious.

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    2. Yes, are you serious?

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  5. BLS counts 758,000 employed lawyers as of 2010, and projects 833,900 in the brave new world of 2020.

    Is it really likely that the number of employed lawyers will actually grow by 75,900 between 2010-2020? So much of what we read about on this blog and see around us spells contraction, rather than growth-- to wit: public sector austerity, offshoring legal work, spasms of big firm downsizing every few years, nonlawyers increasingly doing compliance and immigration work, and online resources for pro se filers.

    BLS may be a useful starting point, but even they, in the fine print, note that their estimates are based on a "project[ion] [of] GDP growth averaging 3.0 percent annually between 2010 and 2020, much faster than the 1.6 percent exhibited over the previous decade."

    Is it really too pessimistic to predict that the number of employed lawyers will remain constant at 758,000 through 2020, rather than growing to 833,900? And, assuming no net growth in lawyer jobs, the number of job openings would be 7,590 fewer per year, or 14,290 rather than 21,880. That would give the debt-ridden newbie lawyer an approximately 1 in 3, rather than a 1 in 2 chance of getting a lawyer job.

    dybbuk

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    1. The BLS data is the most carefully worked out data - it could be wrong - but one has to ask, why is the US Government guaranteeing student loans for more than twice the number of JDs as its own agency says the economy can absorb - outside the Pentagon you do not see such lavish over-ordering?

      I am inclined to agree that the estimates for growth in legal demand is high - in part because most lawyer's work is in representing regular middle class people and small business, and for these groups to hire lawyers they have to experience substantial earnings growth. Sure there is unmet demand for legal services, but most of that unmet demand is because the people who need the services cannot afford them - and I do not see many sources of funding appearing to provide these services.

      I do suspect that there will be demand for experienced lawyers over the next 10-15 years, because based on present trends the number of the 40,000+ JD the law schools pumped and will pump out that gain substantial practical experience will be very small indeed, leading to an odd market packed with neophyte JDs trying to get jobs that require practice experience, while potential employers look for experienced lawyers as many start to retire. There was a hint of this in the late 90s as associates from the classes of 91-93 found lateraling much easier because so many of their peers had failed to get jobs in the 91-93 legal market bust.

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  6. Would or could better law school ratings drive reform? You could use the BLS data

    Almost every analysis of the most widely circulated law school ratings, i.e., the US News & World Report (USNWR) annual law school rankings concludes that the ratings for each school are hopelessly unreliable – both because of a survey methodology that secures a very low response rate and because they consider criteria of very limited relevance. The general view has for a long time been that law school ratings and rankings are a bad thing – but is it plausible that a rigorous and objective set of rankings might actually drive an improvement in law schools – and lower tuition. USNWR is a consumer orientated publication, its readers are primarily students contemplating college or graduate school and trying to decide the best option among possible institutions – and those students are interested in the quality of the legal training they will receive and the prospects that this training will result in a long and reasonable remunerative and satisfying career.

    What is remarkable about the failings of USNWR rankings and ratings is that the publication did not have to rely on the surveys it sends out, with their remarkably low response rate, or the subjective questions that those surveys submit to participants. A tremendous amount of the data needed to evaluate law schools is obtainable from much better and more reliable sources – state bars, Martindale Hubble, the Bureau of Labor statistics, even published legal opinions as well as the Federal, State and Corporate, Judicial, Federal-State Court and Law-firm Yellowbooks. It might also involve a lot less work than the current survey. What would such a survey cover:

    Career Prospects
    There are multiple ways in which reliable data can be obtained on practicing lawyers, what law schools they went to and their year of graduation – for example bar data, Martindale Hubble and the Yellowbook guides. In many instances the data is searchable by law school and graduation year. There are two issues that would seem relevant – the likelihood of having a legal career and its likely longevity.

    A survey thus could take in decade long cohorts for the last 40 years each law schools graduates and the proportion still in legal practice – and then focus again on the last 5 years. Then looking at graduates of more than 10 years vintage it could look at those who are at partner level (including judges, legislators, senior legislative staff, GS-13 and above, etc.)

    Finally, because for some law graduates these issues matter – using other data one could assess (a) which law schools are “national schools” by the proportion of graduates who are practicing out of state or region; (b) whose graduates have international careers; (c) who are more likely to have public interest careers.

    Value/Tuition
    This could be estimated by looking at a number of factors.

    1. Assuming that a law student is in the upper 50% of college graduates compare tuition for the law school to median income for a college graduate in the metropolitan area where the law school is situated.
    2. Compare the median income for a lawyer in the area where the law school is situated with the median income for a college graduate (or alternately a business executive (most likely other career.)
    3. Compare the tuition with the median income for that metro-area (affordability.)

    Education Quality-Reputation
    A pretty good indicator of the quality of education is attorney discipline. So a criterion might take account of the rate at which graduates of a particular law school face attorney discipline.

    Faculty quality and influence
    Citation of publications in legal decisions and legislative reports (not other journal articles.) Faculty listed as counsel of record. Proportion of faculty who have attained certain practice thresholds (partner, GS-1x and above, judge, etc.) Average years of practice experience.

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    1. I disagree that the Reputation of a school should be affected by the actions of individual grads. Should Yales reputation be affected by the convicted arsonist who committed suicide in the courtroom after being convicted? These cases are too individualized to be traced back to the school.

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    2. I do agree that better rankings would help. I don't know how to get better data from schools, who are always going to try to game the rankings. Maybe some kind of audited report, we could pay unemployed grads a sum to report on the actual jobs reported by classmates? And then audit those?

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    3. I see your point, but have you read disbarral and bar discipline reports - most of the lawyers seem to be cut for bad lawyering as much as anything else.

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    4. On you second point - the only law school information I think you would need for career prospects is how many graduates did you have in 1962-71, 1972-81, 1982-91, 1992-2001, 2002-7, 2007-12 - that is hard to game. Then you just count heads - how many of that class are still listed in Martindale/State Bar Records/Yellowbooks etc. which are not in the control of the law school.

      Value-tuition uses the current tuition and BLS earnings data - the laster is not in the control of the law school.

      Education-Quality - I hear you objection - but its a data point

      Faculty Quality - the only way to game this is for the faculty to do more relevant work ... and ....

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    5. "Reputation" is an absurdity. How many people can truly claim enough knowledge of each of 200+ law schools to be able to give a useful assessment of their reputation? A law school may enjoy a good "reputation" just because people have heard of its university's football team. (Indeed, at least two law schools that sent me unsolicited fee waivers after I took the LSAT pointed up their respective universities' varsity football teams and invited me to root for same. I told them that I wouldn't consider a law school that embraced the cheap, vulgar, pornographic spectacle of sports-for-dollars transparently disguised as education.)

      Cooley unwittingly showed the stupidity of ranking law schools. A year or two ago, it ridiculously published a ranking that placed Cooley second, right after Harvard. Needless to say, Cooley's methodology was self-serving and absurd (Cooley selected a few dozen irrelevant criteria that were all proxies for size, then threw in LSAT and GPA just for a veneer of respectability), but so is that of U.S. News.

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    6. Maybe -

      I would put the pure reputation way down the list from the other criteria and also argue that some of my other criteria - career prospects and faculty quality and influence are proxies for reputation.

      Cooley has a lousy reputation which does not help its graduates get hired - and reputation does have an impact because it undermines the ability to get that initial job.

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    7. Reputation as reflected in employment is relevant. Reputation as determined through a survey of miscellaneous practitioners is not.

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    8. By the way, I was referring to "reputation" as U.S. News determines it—by sending a survey to a few hundred people and asking them to assess the reputation of each of 200+ law schools. As you said, there are better ways to go about evaluating reputation, which in any case is relevant primarily for its utility in landing a decent job.

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    9. I am not describing a survey of practitioners. Martindale claims to have every practicing lawyer in the US in it - the bars have the list of every dues paying lawyer - the legal Yellowbook has 26,000 lawyers with information on them - etc., which is a very big sample. The issue is to avoid a survey and simply go with clear verifiable data

      There is publicly available information identifying in principle almost all practicing lawyers in the US, the law school they went to, the year they graduated, etc. This amounts to a lot of objective data that can be used to determine what results a law school has for its graduates in the 40 years after they graduated.

      It may not tell you how much the graduates are earning - but at least you would know if they even were making a living as a lawyer 5-10-20-30-40 years out, and how many were partners, judges, etc.

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    10. Issuing new ratings every year is unnecessary. The importance of reputation to everyone concerned ensures that the rankings of 2020 will be more or less the same as those of 2000. Students (who go whoring after reputation just as much as law schools and law firms do) will apply where their LSAT score tells them to, so Cooley will never be close to #2, nor will Yale ever be close to #200.

      The one thing that might make a big difference—other than the long-overdue closure of a bunch of law schools—is a radical innovation. Not some bullshit "specialty" in animal rights or entertainment law, but a dramatic shift away from the universal pseudo-academic model of legal education. How about $15k per year for a practice-oriented program, complete with training for the bar exam, with instructors teaching eight courses per year rather than churning out worthless "scholarship"? That might shake things up a bit.

      The problem is that the ABA would immediately yank its accreditation. And the ABA is unlikely to change any time soon. Oh, well, back to the drawing board.

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    11. I disagree - ratings that are objective and translate to the key question that prospective law students really are interested in - will I have a legal-career, will it pay me more than I would have earned without the JD, do people with JDs out of this school get hired, have careers, does the tuition make sense in economic terms, would have a huge impact on law schools.

      Maybe the result would be:

      $15k per year for a practice-oriented program, complete with training for the bar exam, with instructors teaching eight courses per year rather than churning out worthless "scholarship"?

      The bottom line would be that law schools selling JDs with more value as toilet paper for $150k would go out of business quickly.

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    12. What I mean is that the answers to those questions are likely to be much the same year after year, as the same few at the top will offer the best prospects while the bottom half or more will continue to be very poor gambles. Note that tuition is the same, within a few thousand dollars, at most schools—at least in the same bands (√©lite, decent, inferior). Law schools move in lock step.

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  7. Also, the problem with BLS statistics is that it assumes future behavior based on past behavior. With the current market, depressed housing prices and deteriorated retirement accounts, no one is quitting their jobs. When I was in law school in the mid-80's, government jobs were for students who didn't exceed in law school, or couldn't handle the pressures of private practice. I adjunct at a top of the second tier law school and all the students are wanting government jobs.

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  8. DJM, if anyone criticizes you for this blog on "scholarship" grounds, point them to this post and ask them to kindly go to hell. This post has succinct analysis based on the best information available regarding a highly important topic.

    But I suppose you should spend your time writing 25 pages and 200 footnotes on the jurisprudence of the galactic senate in star wars.

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    1. Make that 80 pages, 300 footnotes, and a title that includes the word neo-Rawlsian.

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  9. An additional note in regard to these numbers: as far as I know nobody who studies this stuff (including myself) factors in non-ABA accredited American law schools into these kinds of calculations. At this moment there are no less than 52 such schools. Most of these are in California, and either accredited only by the state, or are unaccredited altogether. There are a couple in Alabama, three in Tennessee, and two in Massachusetts. (You also have two or three schools like UC-Irvine which are not currently ABA-accredited but will certainly be so soon).

    If you assume these schools average graduating classes of 150, that's nearly 8,000 more people per year with law degrees. Now many of the California schools have very low bar passage rates, but if you assume a quarter of the graduates of these schools get legal jobs of some sort, graduates of unaccredited schools would be reducing the number of jobs available per year for ABA law school grads by another 10%.

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    1. Excellent point--I had forgotten all about the unaccredited schools. There is also the growing stream of foreign lawyers coming to the US, taking a US bar exam, and practicing law in the US. States have made it easier for foreign lawyers to take the exams (in some states, I think the LLM isn't even necessary). And law schools, hungry for tuition, have been increasing the size of their LLM programs. Those programs initially were designed for lawyers who would return to their home countries but my anecdotal sense is that an increasing proportion of foreign LLM grads stay in the US and take the bar here.

      These foreign LLMs don't show up in the statistics I cited because they earn LLMs rather than JDs. But at least some of them will compete quite effectively for lawyer jobs: They know at least two different legal systems, they usually speak at least two languages, they are familiar with the business culture of their home country, and they often have some practice experience in that country. Yet more lawyers competing for a limited number of openings.

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  10. Sorry for all the math in this post, by the way.

    Don't apologize for that. Math is our friend, especially in a situation like this.

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  11. Can you please answer two questions about these numbers?

    Is this a measure of jobs solely for new attorneys? Or does it consider possible job openings for attorneys with experience ? Or both?

    Besides the caveat about the model being overly optimistic, does the BLS publish a lower range number of what they see as a worse case if growth remains stagnant? Is there a way to make that calculation with the data they supply?

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    1. This is a calculation of how many jobs will become available for lawyers, not just for new lawyers. Jobs become available for lawyers because of outflow (people who were lawyers leaving their jobs for non-lawyer jobs or non-employment) and growth. The BLS estimates that approximately two-thirds of the jobs that will become available for lawyers over this decade will be a result of outflow, while the rest will be from growth (I think the latter projection is overly optimistic).

      You can do your own calculation of a worst case scenario in regard to growth. If you assume no growth, that's 14,000 new jobs a year for lawyers (of all experience levels).

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    2. Thank you very much. So if we look at the 21,880 number, and take one third, that would be job openings of an additional 7,293 jobs for new graduates every year?

      These numbers and the reality of this situation makes me sad and angry. If school cost what it did in 1980 proportionally to inflation, maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Now people are ruining their lives just to go to school to try to improve their life.

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    3. Replying to myself- these may not be all new jobs to add to the existing jobs. These are jobs that people are leaving or being cut from too.

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  12. Excellent suggestions by MacK. Yes, the USNWR rankings could be a force for reform, if done properly.

    Personally, I'm grateful for the rankings because they enabled me to see (some years back) that going to the local TTTT at night was not such a good idea, in view of my other options.

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    1. Thanks -

      the thing that I find puzzling is that the data exists - it is out there - and since the 1990s Martindale and other sources have been readily searchable - and it has to be a lot easier to do than USNWR survey methodology, so why has no one done it?

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    2. Maybe no one has thought of it? Until very recently, people thought schools reported all their data honestly because the schools were considered as trustworthy and ethical.

      I think we should start our own rankings. Don't know how you find out the names of all the grads if they are not made public.

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    3. Most schools have records - pretty public - of how many JD' they granted in each year. The rest of the data is publicly available - or online.

      USNWR sells a lot of mags with its annual rankings - maybe another magazine would do rankings using this data and a small gang of interns..

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  13. Honestly, these numbers are good. But I've been trying to get people to even look for the number of market paying jobs in the area they want to practice. People need to see how few jobs there are in the regions where they will apply.

    The other thing that is becoming clear is that people look at the total salary a market pays and not the after tax numbers. On TLS, people have not realized that $160,000 in NYC is equal to about $95,000 after taxes. That is still a lot of money, not disputing that. But when you are $250,000 in debt, and you see $160,000, you may not realize how long it will take you to repay.
    You also may not realize how insecure that job is.

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  14. You also may not realize how insecure that job is.

    Or how grueling it will probably be, and how limited your exit options could be.

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  15. more overly optimistic forecasts from the Ministry of Truth.

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  16. @5:52AM

    Hey Cool! Ahab Beckons!

    One of my ancestors worked on whaling ships out of Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, which is where he had his home when not away at sea.
    There is a whaling museum in Cold Spring Harbor as well.

    The last name was Wicks, and he left behind things like harpoons and blubber spades etc. but other extended family members got that stuff and who knows what ever happened to them.

    BTW, I was inside the Sag Harbor Whalers Chapel about 10 years ago helping people that ran a food pantry out of the basement of the church.


    http://soulofamerica.com/cgi-bin/slideviewer.cgi?list=sag-harbor-genattr&dir=&config=&refresh=&direction=forward&scale=0&cycle=off&slide=6&design=soadesign&total=9

    The steeple blew down in the Hurricane of 1938 and was never restored or replaced, and all those little wooden things around the top of the church that look like dental molding are each shaped in the form of a blubber spade.

    You can find a pic of the old steeple here:

    http://www.hamptons.com/News/Main-Articles/6198/Towns-Historic-Archives-Soon-To-Be-Just-a-Mouse.html


    Anyway, it is a very cool old church, especially on the inside.

    I know this is all off topic. I'm just posting it to annoy my critics :)

    (Note that I said: "annoy" and not make furious, which is what some of them seem to be. Cheez!

    But like in New Bedford, they also do a full reading of Moby Dick every year (somewhere in Sag Harbor I think)

    Ah the law school scam.....it tasks me. It heaps me.







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  17. Interesting data on college debt.

    http://kaysteiger.com/2012/08/30/chart-of-the-day-how-the-average-american-family-pays-for-college/

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  18. Great post.

    Unlikely that huge numbers baby boomers will leave in the next decade. First of all, there are limited numbers of them still in productive legal jobs. Many were eased out of work years ago. Most went to law school when the classes were a third as big as now. Second, most baby boomers cannot afford to retire. This was an age of 401(k), not defined benefit pension plans. The money is not there to retire on. Most baby boomers need to continue working to support themselves. Finally, there is not an incentive to retire in the Social Security system. Most lawyers are fully able to work until much later in life, unlike manual laborers, who may be physically unable to continue working. Full Social Security kicks in at age 70 - maximum actuarial increase starts at 70, and a person can keep working after age 70 and receive full Social Security. Finally, if 4,500 of those open jobs are at "up or out" law firms, you are not talking about growth at all - just short-term jobs for younger lawyers. There likely is now and will continue to be a large group of former "up or outers" milling around in temporary work and unemployment. There people have experience and are competing for every opening.

    The employment prospects in the legal profession are not good for most people, even from top schools. Most of the current law students would do themselves a favor by dropping out in midstream.

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    1. I work at a federal agency office and over half of the attorneys are eligible for retirement. NONE are planning to retire anytime soon...they are holding on to these gold-plated jobs like grim death!

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    2. The feds are also planning to allow employees to switch from full-time to part-time schedules. This is currently not widely available. If this goes through, it will make retirement even more unlikely for tons of fed workers.

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    3. "Finally, there is not an incentive to retire in the Social Security system. Most lawyers are fully able to work until much later in life, unlike manual laborers, who may be physically unable to continue working. Full Social Security kicks in at age 70 - maximum actuarial increase starts at 70, and a person can keep working after age 70 and receive full Social Security. "

      It's not 'able to keeping working', it's 'allowed to keep working'. After age 40 or 50, any hits to one's career are likely to be permanent. In how many whit-collar professions is a 50-year old laid-off person hireable at all?

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    4. "I work at a federal agency office and over half of the attorneys are eligible for retirement. NONE are planning to retire anytime soon...they are holding on to these gold-plated jobs like grim death!"

      And when each of them finally retires/is kicked out, how many of those positions will be retained as full-time JD-requiring positions?

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  19. I had read the prior post about Dean Z at UMich and just saw this from CrainsDetroit.com (subscription required). She is either really stupid or complaining in her ivory tower, likely both.

    "The tenor of the recent articles about this (trend) is really frustrating," said Sarah Zearfoss, senior assistant dean for admissions, financial aid and career planning at UM's law school.

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    1. Of course she is frustrated. Declining enrollment means bonuses for administrators will also be down. This means she will have to put off buying that next bentley.

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    2. Of course she is frustrated, she can't lie about how many students Michigan employs at graduation anymore.

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  20. I am pretty certain that the government knows that there are more law grads being pumped out every year than there are lawyer jobs to absorb them, but the law school shills will just claim that a law degree is versatile. Back in the day, the surplus of dental schools were shut down because it was rightly assumed that other being a dentist there weren't many comparable jobs available for unemployed dental graduates to pay back their loans. Same case for law school graduates. Unfortunately, IBR kicks the can down the road and all the JD defaults are hiding out in the future.

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  21. Can I ask you all for some advice? My attorney registration fees are due October 1. They are about $429 (too much!) I have been currently unemployed since July (by choice) because I am trying to figure out what to do with my life. After paying off $100K in student loans 22 years early, I decided I am not going to get pigeon-holed or waste another 8 years of my life doing dead end work like doc review for corporate legal depts. anymore just to pay the bills. I want to be a practicing attorney at a law firm or the AG's office, or else work in a field that has nothing to do with law. The question is - should I continue paying for an attorney license I do not use? It irritates me that the Court makes so much money at the expense of so many underemployed/unemployed lawyers, without any voluntary option to stop paying. If you do not pay, they put "suspended for non-payment" for the public/potential employers to see. This has happened to several friends of mine that couldn't pay anymore. I can pay - I just don't want to. I feel I have wasted enough money on attorney licenses (I am also licensed in another state but voluntarily retired so I don't have to pay anymore) that I don't want to waste anymore. Any advice would be appreciated. If I'm being delusional or a whiner, please say so. I have been thinking/worrying/angry about this crap for so long, I need someone else's opinion. Thank you.

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    1. It depends on the state - DC I think makes you pay the dues for the entire period you allowed your registration to lapse if you want to re-up - so check what the bar does. You can go in many bars voluntarily inactive and pay nominal sums and they reactivate pretty easily

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    2. Opt for inactive status. It's less expensive. Otherwise I would pay the fee to keep your options open.

      Delete
    3. I agree that, if you can afford the inactive fee, that's a better route personally. I have been tracking the careers of some of my school's grads and have seen that "suspended for nonpayment" note. It does look bad: On at least one bar site I've seen, the "for nonpayment" appears in a different place than the "suspended," so it looks like the lawyer has been disciplined.

      But what a scam this is! Why in the world should someone who has passed the bar have to pay yearly dues of any level to avoid a stigma? Why can't a lawyer go inactive for free and then re-enter active practice later? I hadn't focused on this before (although my husband and I have both paid inactive-status fees at various points) but it's ridiculous. Passing the bar exam subjects you to a lifelong tax? I may have to join the tea party.

      Delete
    4. It is not just to avoid a stigma. In NY, for example, nearly half the funds go for legal services, legal aid, and the client protection fund.
      Why is everything you disagree with, or do not want to support, a scam? Things can be problematic, or even wrong, without being a scam.

      Delete
  22. This blog does a disservice (I think LawProf and not DJM is guilty here) by suggesting there there is a rose garden ahead with a HYS or other top degree where the person gets a federal clerkship or BigLaw job. In fact, all of these jobs are short-term. Clerkships last a year or two. Very few people survive at BigLaw in the long-term. There are almost now associates over the age of 40, and in some firms not even counsel is a career position. In house is a matter of "fit", so if you were not in the popular crowd in high school, you may not make it after BigLaw. Most people do not do very well in tiny law firms, surely not well enough to warrant having used one's great academic record in college to get a law degree.

    The important focus should be on careers. This dynamic of oversupply and "up or out" means that even from the very top schools, and even with a top record from top school, the career prospects are uncertain.

    The best that can be said about long term career outcomes is that we do not know what they are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think LawProf has ever said a "rose garden" awaits people who go to HYS. Who even thinks in those terms? It makes no sense to make finding a rose garden the measure of anything. There is no rose garden awaiting anyone. It's crazy to think that no one is ever going to to go law school again, or that they are going to be dissuaded from doing so because not everyone stays in the law forever or is successful. I went to HYS knowing for a fact that I did not want to practice law forever. I figured that it would open doors for me other than in the practice of law, certainly other than BigLaw. I was right about that.

      Law school is nothing but a shot. That's all it ever has been, and all that it will ever be. Some schools give their graduates better "shots" than others. That's all. There are no guarantees in life, not even from HYS. Those schools, in some ways, provide a better launching pad for certain types of career experiences. There is nothing wrong with wanting to clerk for a federal judge or, even, a clerk for the Supreme Court. It is easier to do those things from HYS. They are not necessarily better than the good state school where the graduate knows he/she wants to settle and practice.

      Delete
    2. Problem is that many other careers are more than just a "shot" at success. In those careers, a person can work and earn a good living for as long as he or she is able. To think that a substantial number of people who went to the very top law schools just had a "shot" at a career and essentially cannot earn a living because that "shot" did not work out, is pretty incredible. Surely suggests that people should pause and think carefully about career outcomes before going to any law school.

      Delete
    3. What are those other careers where the preparation alone insures more than a shot at lifelong success?

      Delete
    4. And what are those careers that require three years of preparation that insure lifelong success?

      Delete
    5. Healthcare for one. If one is a policeman or a teacher who gets tenure, or a guidance counselor or other educational specialist who is actually working now, you probably have a great chance at a career. Many of these do not require three years of preparation. The problem with law school is that you are dealing not just with unemployment at the entry level. Unemployment and underemployment will be a persistent problem for most lawyers throughout the 40 years or so a normal professional would be trying to work. I cannot think of another career with up or out and such difficulty in working on one's own, combined with this huge supply demand imbalance.

      Delete
    6. Teachers, police officers, and other municipal workers are being laid off all over the country. This trend will continue as states and localities run out of money. "Healthcare" covers a wide range of jobs, and most of them are not all as secure as you suggest. There is no land of milk and honey. And if there ever was such a place, law was never there.



      Delete
  23. The term "Mad Hatter" came about because mercury was used in the hat making trade at one time, and it was said that too much exposure to mercury affected the central nervous system and made people crazy.

    If you read the label of a typical paint can, you will find similar language with respect to xylene and toulene and chemicals etc.

    HA HA HA HA HAAAA!

    I once met an auto body painter that blew out his sinus cavities and completely lost his sense of taste and smell like me!

    I got CRAAAAAZY Student Loan Debt!


    But according to the NY times, the USA wants to keep even people blind from diabetes in deep debt for life.

    How cruel.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debbie Downer is back.

      Delete
    2. JD Painter = the human (sort of) non-sequitur.

      Delete
  24. When I read about lawyers who are expected to retire or leave the profession, I am reminded of the Bowen-Sousa report of 1989. That document famously predicted there would be a massive number of retirements among humanities professors, which would result in more than enough tenure-track job openings for all of those who were expected to earn PhDs in those fields.

    As with lawyers, many did not retire or leave the profession. And the positions of those who retired, left academia or died were eliminated and/or replaced with part-time contingent positions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for posting this. I hadn't considered this possibility.

      Delete
  25. When "job openings" for lawyers is stated, there doesn't seem to be any dissectioning as to how many are full-time, part-time, permanent, temporary, independent contractor or any other employment arrangement that can be dreamed up.

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  26. A first or second year law student is looking at 36 or 24 months until getting what is a worse than useless degree. The law student could withdraw, get a tuition refund, retool and get a bachelors degree in a discipline that is in demand within three additional years. Petroleum engineering, ocean engineering, and petroleum geologists are in heavy demand now and are likely to remain so for a long, long, time. Law prof's students in Colorado could retrain into mining engineering.

    It is completely insane to keep sinking money into an utter train wreck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. But if you go on TLS you see people focusing in how to do well in the LSAT and if lower T14 is worth sticker.

      We still have a king way to go to get the message out to students. Thank god more realistic employment information is becoming available.

      Delete
  27. i know exactly one patent attorney who retired within the last ten years in my state. several died woring part to full time while in their 70 and 80's. and one forced medical retirement. almost no one is retiring in the field. just saying. i expect to work into my 70's and more. but i enjoy what i do

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    Replies
    1. I've got nothing but respect for people who carry on like that, and I hope I can do the same. The problem comes when people have to do this because of financial pressure, and continue working until well after the point when they should have retired.

      Delete
  28. @6:09
    "The problem with law school is that you are dealing not just with unemployment at the entry level. Unemployment and underemployment will be a persistent problem for most lawyers throughout the 40 years or so a normal professional would be trying to work. I cannot think of another career with up or out and such difficulty in working on one's own, combined with this huge supply demand imbalance."

    Truer words were never spoken. As a lawyer, even if you get a job, you will be constantly struggling to keep that job or, stated differently, constantly interviewing for a new job (i.e. find a new client). I cannot emphasize enough that there is almost no job security for any lawyer.

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  29. I read a book about Zebulon Vance, the Governor of North Carolina during the Civil War. I was struck by the author's description of the difficulties of finding legal work in Western North Carolina in the 1850's. Vance opted for politics rather pursuing a toe-hold in the law. The fascinating thing about this history was that while there was considerable demand for legal services in Western North Carolina in the 1850's, there were far too few paying customers, and too many lawyers for the "paying" population. The description of the legal market then rings true today. The obvious difference, though, is that the reading of the law back then did not cause a young man to go into debt, much less debt that could not be discharged.

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  30. Some facts from the dean of CU Law:

    "Employment Opportunities for Law Grads and Student Indebtedness

    First, the decline of Big Law jobs is undermining the fantasy that an entry-level lawyer can and should expect to make a six-figure salary. The high water mark of 2009, and the decline since then, is captured here. As for our grads, 27 graduates from the class of 2009 went to law firms employing 50 or more lawyers (and generally, six-figure salaries); in 2011, that number shrunk to 9. For a sense of how the salary distribution is changing, see Appendix A to this letter. (Note that the numbers are somewhat depressed because they include judicial clerks who later take higher-paying jobs.)

    Second, with the decline of entry-level law firm opportunities, there are increasing challenges for our grads to find employment opportunities. For the class of 2011, 83.5% found jobs by nine months after graduation (and 91%, if you count those in our public service fellowship program, some of whom took jobs immediately after that program ended). In what is a healthy increase in transparency that will continue to play out, more data about the actual jobs of law school grads is becoming available, underscoring that not all jobs are necessarily equal—the 83.5% figure, for example, includes short-time positions, part-time jobs, and those who are using their law degree and legal skills in non-legal positions.

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  31. Cont:

    "For the class of 2012, we are doing slightly better than we did for the class of 2011, with 54.55% employed overall (82 long-term, 14 short-term) in late July, whereas the class of 2011 was at just over 59% employed (excluding fellows) in November 2011. Similarly, we are working very hard to ensure that both rising 2Ls and rising 3Ls have substantive summer employment lined up, with 92% of the class of 2013 and 94% of the class of 2014 reporting such opportunities (and some not reporting at all). Finally, as Appendix B depicts, our employment numbers improved vis a vis our peers from 2010 to 2011, but we have lots of work to do.

    Third, the numbers reported by different schools do not yet give an accurate or illuminating picture of what law school grads are doing. Once you remove the part-time, short-term, and non-legal practice jobs from the class of 2011 positions nine months after graduation, the number of those employed drops to 56%. The current reporting regimes do not necessarily distinguish between very promising short-term or part-time opportunities (say, working in the in-house law department for Mitt Romney’s campaign—an actual job of one of our grads) or non-law degree required jobs (working in the business units at Zayo, a very successful telecom company—another actual job of a recent grad). Consequently, the 56% figure understates what constitutes gainful employment (as opposed to working as a barista, which should not count). For our part, we are working to capture that data and make it available in a clear and transparent fashion. For the relevant data for the class of 2011, take a look here.

    Fourth, we are working hard to monitor and understand the implications of law student indebtedness and how it relates to salaries earned by our graduates. On this front, three perspectives are worth noting:
    • A rule of thumb is that individuals should not spend more than 30% of their gross income on rent (or a mortgage). For a recent grad earning $60,000, this means $18,000 is available for housing. If that individual pays $6,000 per year on her student debts, that $18,000 drops down to around $12,000 per year for housing.
    • Recent grads with around $90,000 in debt (the median debt level for the class of 2012 is likely to be in the low 80K range) are paying around $6,000 per year on their loans, if they repay their student debts over 25 years. To be sure, it can be harder—or easier—depending on family circumstances (undergrad debt, one’s spouse’s income, etc).
    • For the class of 2011, the median salary was around $53,000. The estimated annual loan payments for unmarried graduates with income of $55,000 electing income-based repayment is $5,796, leaving such individuals with around $47,000 in gross income for expenses.

    In light of the above, two paramount goals of our upcoming fundraising campaign will be scholarships (which lower debt levels) and loan repayment assistance. Indeed, a core goal of the upcoming campaign will be to create an endowed fund of $10 million for loan repayment, enabling the law school to pay the interest on loan payments for up to 12 graduates per year in public service (that is, $6,500 per grad) for five consecutive years after graduation."

    ReplyDelete
  32. Cooley Law School is the bane of Michigan. Pumping out the dregs who cannot gain Law School Admission in their home states, Cooley makes it difficult to transfer out and puts 10% of the 21,000 into the already glutted lawyer market as many prefer to stay here rather than suffer Cooley's reputation everywhere else.

    If it were not for Student Loans, this trashy, proprietary Ponzi Scheme would end.

    With these new statistics, Cooley should be more deeply ashamed but cannot be expected to react to mere morality.

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  33. I am Harshita I’ve registered in this forum for nearly today. At present, I've been working at a maritime shipping company & Thanks for sharing the information’s that’s a good post.

    ReplyDelete
  34. The Law firm of Patrick H. Yancey located in Maritime Lawyers in Houma Louisiana specializes in representing persons injured while working as a crewmember on a ship tug supply vessel crew vessel jack-up vessel derrick barger pipe lay barger or any other type of vessel.

    ReplyDelete

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