Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chinatown

Once upon a time there was a terrible secret, that almost nobody knew, because those who knew it didn't talk about it.  Then people began to talk about it, and gradually it wasn't so much of a secret any more.  But even as people began to talk about it, those who learned of the secret-that-was-no-longer-so-secret were constantly surprised by how many people still knew nothing about it.  A comment from yesterday's thread:

On the obliviousness of those currently inside law schools, I recently reconnected with a friend who is a tenured prof at a T30 school. He's not some cloistered pseudo-academic writing law review articles no one reads. He's actually written a well-reviewed book for a general audience; he's active on a number of faculty committees. Yet, amazingly, this guy had no clue about the employment situation of his students [less than 2/3's getting real legal jobs]. He had no clue that his school had hired about 5% of the last graduating class in fake jobs to game the employment stats. He had never even heard of the phrase "law school scam."

We've come far, but have a long way to go.
It would be good to begin to get a sense of the extent to which this anecdote is representative or exceptional at different law schools across the country.

This post is an invitation for people in and around law schools -- faculty, staff, students, alumni -- to talk about their sense of how much people in their institutions have learned about various aspects of the gathering disaster that is overtaking X percent of law school graduates.  The erstwhile secret, of course, is that no matter what school you work at or go to or graduated from, "X" is a much larger number than almost everyone would have guessed even a short time ago.

How many people at your school have some sort of an accurate sense of actual employment outcomes and debt levels? How many could tell you what IBR is, or how many graduates are being put into law school-created "jobs" (where applicable)?  How many have any sense of the extent to which their school's budget is dependent on the continuing availability of no questions asked federal educational loans?  Etc.

One purpose of the anonymity feature in the comments on this blog is to give people the freedom to speak freely.  I hope readers of this blog -- and especially people who lurk rather than comment -- can provide some insight into these and related questions.


121 comments:

  1. All Neil Buchanan (GW) could say was "Campos is an arsonist". He was probably just mad that Campos called him out in a post earlier this year.

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    1. An arsonist?! What the FUCK is that about?

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    2. This makes sense if arson is defined as calling the fire department to report a fire.

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    3. I'm shocked that a tenured law professor knows what arson is. That sounds like something that could, possibly, appear on a bar exam and thus has no business in a law school classroom.

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    4. The only thing worse than a K-JD-Circuit Clerk-BigLaw law professor is a K-PhD-JD law professor. Buchanan's never practiced period.

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    5. How does that saying go? One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

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  2. My brother in law is a tenured professor at UVA. I graduated from a TTT in 2008. I had discussions with him this summer about job prospects for his students and he had no clue what was waiting for them. He seemed to know what things were like for the people attending toilets, but really seemed to believe that UVA people all graduate and live lifes filled with milk and honey.

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    1. I'm a recent UVA grad and I have to say that this strikes me as about right. Most professors are in some sense aware that it is a tougher market out there, but most still believe the grads are doing really well. Only a very few with access to the information and the inclination know the extent of the market out there.

      I'd say most students are aware it's a terrible market, but even those who have not yet found anything (a sizable percentage according to LP's reproduction of the 2011 stats) are optimistic. Or perhaps that is the face they are putting on to everyone else. The shame factor is high among the students, even at a supposedly collegial school like UVA.

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    2. For what it's worth, the employment situation at UVA seems to have declined significantly from when I graduated just a few years ago. Adding to the problem is that tuition has increased by around 15K in the last six years.

      I agree regarding the high shame factor, particularly at a school where people "barely study" for exams.

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    3. UVA still shows about 87% FT employment. Can't tell how many of those are real law jobs.

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    4. So, how do we fight the "shame" factor? Students need to know there aren't enough jobs before they start school. People shouldn't feel shame when they've been used and lied to-

      Law prof: can we address this issue? I know it helped on TLS a little when a few well known posters from T14 schools openly posted about getting no offered , one by Winston.

      But unknowns who show up and post about their suffering in the job market get mocked and called trolls.


      People still want to hold fast to the idea that not getting a job is the fault of the individual, not the fault of the market.

      Someone on TLS today was saying this year was worse than last year for Penn OCI and about 30% of people are in trouble. Of course someone chimed in with how they have to be better off graduating from Penn than a lower ranked school.


      People really have a mental block about the reality of the job market.

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  3. I'm a 3L. At my school the professors talk openly in class about how bad the job market is and how hard it is to get a job. I hear the same thing from administrators. But publicly is a different story. I've never heard law professors or administrators talk about how bad the job market is outside the classroom.

    As far as the students go, it is hard for 3Ls looking for a job not to know how bad it is. In one of my classes, of about 25 students, my professor asked who had jobs lined up. These were all 3Ls. Only one person raised her hand. However, I doubt there is the same awareness for 1 and 2L's about how bad the job market is. In 1L and 2L it seems more like an academic discussion. By the time 3L rolls around there is a realization that this is your life.

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  4. 3L here. Almost all the profs at my school (T50 "strong regional") seem to have no idea that most of the third year class not only doesn't have a job but has no realistic job prospects.

    What's worse is that the 1Ls seem to be just as oblivious.

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    1. Why wouldn't you just name the school? You're commenting as anon so it's not like you could be identified and the information is vastly more useful if it can be tied to a specific school.

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    2. Yeah I don't get this. It's everywhere too -- somebody at TLS will be talking about how many people in his class at "CCN" (Columbia, Chicago, NYU) struck out at OCI, as if actually naming the school would compromise national security or something.

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    3. Because their psychological investment in the law school is such that it's a painful embarrassment to publicly name the school.

      It's an identity issue. They *are* the school.

      Plus, it marks that person (who failed at OCI) with the horrible stigma of Not Getting An Internship, which is the equivalent of death.

      They will be forced to wander the earth as a wraith, unable to gain a meaningful life because they were unable to work at Cravath.

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    4. A lot of ingrained fear exists and some students think that might hurt their school's reputation or accidently say something that identifies themselves. I know many people who fear their dean because of their influence with federal clerkships and such.

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    5. Some of us would give our identities away if we named the school. I've described myself as an older student at or near the top of my class; well, that alone puts me into a small category, and naming the school would put me into a category of one.

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    6. Then don't comment under a moniker and don't give away identifying information about yourself when you make a post.

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    7. I haven't named my school, even though I've already graduated, because I use this online persona to say things about my professors, classmates, and the school's administration in a manner different than I do with my own name. Now, to be clear, I still throw flags and call fouls as necessary, just as I did while in law school - and I'm not on many Christmas card lists at this point. So it's not like I'm ducking it. But, still, I'd rather let this Crux character survive as a vent for my frustration. As for my school's reputation, ranking, and existence... Burn it down.

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    8. The information that I provided is far more relevant to my points than the name of the school.

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    9. @ Anonymous, October 23, 2012 9:50 AM: I agree. If one makes a valid complaint about the state of their law school, it is not a valid criticism to point out the complainer did not mention the name of their school (or their real name). It is a diversion from the conversation much like the invalid criticism of LP's employment status.

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    10. Crux,
      It's not even remotely equivalent to criticizing LP's employment status nor was I ever suggesting that someone should use their real name for obvious reasons. The information in the aggregate isn't very helpful unless one knows what school it comes from. It's also helpful if someone else at that school has a different perspective.

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    11. "Then don't comment under a moniker and don't give away identifying information about yourself when you make a post."


      Yeah.

      All you Anonymice look alike to us anyways.

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    12. I suspect that most of us who choose to comment anonymously on this blog greatly underestimate the difficulty of identifying us from the little bits of information we post, and greatly overestimate the chance that anyone will care enough to try. But, hey--remember that we're lawyers, here, and that we were taught that paranoia is one of the cardinal virtues. Don't push us.

      Publius

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    13. I'm not talking about my specific law school (which, not to put too fine a point on it, happens to be one of the most prestigious); I'm talking about the general state of the legal acadummy and of the so-called legal profession.

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    14. I'll bite and just name a d*mn institution. I went to Oregon, and my sense was that the faculty and administration were essentially clueless as to the professional and financial abyss into which the school's students were about to fall. Even while the institution was promoting "form your own non-profit" forums for the purpose of exploiting IBR, practically passing out free copies of that godforsaken victim-blaming treatise "Guerrilla Tactics" (aka "You're just not networking enough!"), overselling a relatively puny LRAP as financial salvation for the 5 people a year who actually got any assistance, and employing its own grads for, ahem, several months after graduation. I personally knew one "top o'the class" student, and another student who was a journal editor, who had real trouble finding work (as of a few years ago; I don't know whether they ever did ultimately find real jobs). And that was a little bit BEFORE the bottom really fell out.

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  5. Since you asked . . .
    1. Most have a fairly concrete idea about employment and debt, and at least some idea about IBR. It is not to the level pursued here, and it is more particular to our school, but it is enough to generate active concern.
    2. A fairly substantial number would feign more ignorance than they have. Perhaps this is because they are in denial about culpability, but the more likely explanation is that it is a painful subject and many of are less likely to be frank about things that are worrisome and difficult to resolve. Some participate in discussions with students about these issues, including in open meetings, and the impression is that students are actually no more eager to engage in public discussions of this nature.
    3. Not at all surprised that some would be ignorant of the term "law school scam," or that they would refuse to recognize that description. The more the subject is associated with that meme (and this blog by that name), the less likely it is to gain traction with some influential people, for reasons that are too obvious to recite.
    4. Many of us work long hours teaching, administering the school, engaging in public service, and researching and writing (on matters that are actually germane to the law school's mission and to the education of our students -- by which I mean, engage in work that materially affects what we can and do teach). I know many here disagree and could not be persuaded otherwise. Assuming it to be the case, though, doubt that it would be better if those people re-dedicated their time to studying the law school crisis. Some, of course, have more free time, and ideally would spend more in some pursuit of a public interest. I think that this latter model is the one that Professor Campos has chosen -- first in studying obesity, and now in studying legal education. I remain unsure why students at his law school should be paying for either output, but among his various possible pursuits, I think this one has had genuine benefits. I think others should free-ride on it and spend their time engaged in more traditional pursuits, including working within their schools to make them better for students.

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    1. Campos' work adds as much value to his students' career prospects as you or any other law professor does. That may well be zero, but you accomplish no more than he and rip off your students no less. If you disagree, name something you do that helps your students find work. I could use a good laugh.

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    2. I don't disagree and don't need to be persuaded that there are many LPs out there working diligently at what a LP traditionally was supposed to be working on. What a disagree with is the LP that refuses to understand that their work is no longer for the public good funded by tax dollars directly, because it is now funded by student's loan dollars. Therefore those LPs must change their outlook to provide for their students only. And since those students are paying 20-60k/year, LPs should attempt to provide as much in value. Good luck with that.

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    3. Anonymous 7:50 here. I could focus on your bitter hubris -- what basis do you really have for generalizing about what the best among us do? -- but I'm not the best among us, and perhaps you are just lashing out blindly because you have had bad experiences. I would not confine myself to "something [I or all other faculty] do that helps your students find work" in the immediate sense only, but won't bore you things you're likely to dismiss relating to education or administration. Last week I wrote three bar recs, called a judge re an off-cycle clerking opportunity, and helped place a student at an organization that I assist (gratis) in part because it gives me a voice in its hiring. Laughable, I am sure, in the grand scheme of things, but this is what it's like at the retail level. I should have been blogging, I now realize.

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    4. bad experiences

      That what I would call six figures of non-dischargable debt for a useless credential, and three years wasted.

      It reminds me of the way the tobacco companies sanitized the language regarding carcinogens.

      You may work very hard, but in my opinion your effort is overwhelmed by the harm the institution for whom you work causes its victims/students.

      You're not bad, but the system is bad and you benefit from it.



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    5. 9:03 here. Law professors aren't in a position to help their students find jobs, certainly not in a way that doesn't take a job from some other student. But jobs are what students are paying for. So it's bullshit to call out Campos without pointing the finger at yourself. Law professors do not and cannot help with the employment situation. Thus, it doesn't matter what you or anybody else does, it's a rip off to bill it to the students.

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    6. 9:03, 7:50 here. You asked that I name something I do that helps student find jobs, but I gather from your perspective no professor could ever help at all (in this economy, at least, but maybe more broadly). Part is because you view the market as zero sum, and part is because you think law school is only a way station to career placement.

      I disagree. I add value by helping train students, then assist almost any who ask -- particularly those who distinguish themselves, either against classmates or against students at other schools or against already-trained lawyers -- find work that they want and in which they might, in my judgment, excel. This is closer to zero sum than I would like, but I can't change that, or the terrible prospects that law students as a whole face. I do think, though, that in training students so that they can land jobs on their own *and* retain the jobs once landed by performing ably, I am helping them in the job market -- though I don't doubt you'd question whether any training really occurs or whether it's worth the money. Beyond that, I was trying to cite for you some more direct job-promotion activity. I am very, very unhappy about how successful any of this is, and how expensive and burdensome it is, and was trying to report that many of us are aware of this and working to overcome it to the best of our abilities.

      I think this by and large what is billed to the students; I think it costs them too much, but I genuinely believe how much depends on what I do and how effective I am, whereas you seem to think it's irrelevant and that I should either resign (without affecting tuition) or give up the pretense and just have fun, since it doesn't matter what I do and regardless it's a rip-off.

      As to Campos, I take it you might condemn him equally and just wouldn't like it if I had. My original point was the limited one that, even if he should do what he does, that didn't mean the rest of should spend our time doing the same thing. Students aren't helped if we all start wringing our hands and blogging in pale imitation; those I speak with don't want me to toss around employment stats, but want to learn or want ideas about where they can work. IMHO, we should be alert to the problem, absorb the facts and figures and use them as we can, and otherwise do what our jobs tell us to do.

      If you want to discuss further, please feel free to post a throwaway email address description (i.e., with "at").

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    7. Do you think that all Campos and DJM are doing is wringing their hands and posting on a blog?

      Are you so incapable of considering further action - like maybe pointing out the actual job prospects to your students and making sure they can do a cost-benefit analysis - or having an open discussion about employment in a forum at your school - that you can't do anything to help them?

      I wouldn't pat myself on the back to much for all the great training you give your students. I'm a biglaw associate at a V10 firm and nothing I learned in law school has helped train me to do my job well. The firm is training me as a go, deal by deal.

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    8. OP: you have to be the most intellectually dishonest person ever to post on this blog.

      You fellow professors, instead of being up in arms about the calamity your students -to whom you owe a moral obligation of honesty -want to avoid talking about unpleasantness while your student's lives are ruined.

      How can you justify that?

      You are the Chamberlains of the law school reform movement but your timidity and appeasement will not serve you in the end. This war has started and you are going to have to make a choice and take a stand. Ignoring it is no longer an option.

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    9. Anonymous 10:58, 7:50 here. Read again. I'm among the "some" communicating with students on these issues; I'm not ignorant of the facts and, after actually participating in public fora and repeatedly expressing willingness to meet privately, I start to assume the students aren't ignorant either (or that if they are, I'm not the solution). My point re. hand-wringing was about others, not about your fearless leaders: a world in which every faculty member simulated Campos would be pretty idiotic; "we all" need not spend our time wringing our hands in "pale imitation."

      As to the value of the training you received, and the potential value I impart, I am sorry that you feel no better prepared for your V10 position than if you had not gone to law school. If true, then of course law school has always been a ripoff. Having sat where you sit, I had a very different opinion -- maybe I lacked your natural facility -- and I am giving a sounder education than I received. But I'm not content with the situation; I just think my time is better spent trying to get better at what students pay for rather than copying this blog.

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    10. Anonymous 11:04, 7:50 here. I guess I should be happy not to have set the record for most hyperbolic poster ever! Otherwise, I think I have explained why I am not ignoring the crisis, and you have literally no idea whether I am a force for honesty and disclosure or not. We are illustrating, in several ways, the cost of anonymity, and I am contradicting myself as to how to best spend my time, so I will leave it at that.

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  6. "3. Not at all surprised that some would be ignorant of the term "law school scam," or that they would refuse to recognize that description. The more the subject is associated with that meme (and this blog by that name), the less likely it is to gain traction with some influential people, for reasons that are too obvious to recite."

    There is a serious issue with the name of this blog.

    In order for it to have it's desired impact, it needs to be renamed to "Inside the Law School Crisis" or something.

    The use of the word "Scam" is laden with so much negativity that it's inclusion in the blog title detracts from the purpose of the blog at this particular stage of the law school crisis.

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    1. I second the renaming sentiment. It's not that the current name is terrible (and it is, of course, the truth), but we need to muster every bit of potential legitimacy when countering those in ivory towers. The "brand" (so to speak) for this site needs to be as strong as possible.

      It would be easy to register another domain (on blogspot or otherwise) and just redirect people that come to this address to that new URL.

      Just don't ask me for a more legitimate name idea because frankly I would have chosen "Potemkin Villages Filled With Charlatans (With Apologies to Grigory Potemkin and Charlatans)" to begin with . . .

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    2. A scam is something in which at least some of those involved are knowing participants. A crisis is something that falls upon you, regardless of any efforts that may have been made to avoid it. So I can see why the ABA and law schools would prefer to see what is clearly and demonstrably a total f***ing scam described as a "crisis."

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    3. I don't have a lot of experience with blogspot, but I have done some web design in my day. I'd wager that LP is too deep into it now to contemplate a change to the naming convention. There are too many posts that have been linked by countless other websites, blogs, and articles. The re-direct issues could be crippling. That said, I'm sure there is a quick, server-side fix. But, still, in my opinion, picking on the word "scam" in the url is a red herring - it simply doesn't much matter. On the net, content is king. the name is not very important as long as you can find an available .com to use.

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    4. "Scam" is both true and funny but it doesn't serve a purpose here at this stage of the mess because it's not an appropriate tool.

      Remember, law school *worked* for the current crop of law professors.

      They *know* it isn't a scam because they are living proof that it works.

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    5. The students are the scammees and the professors and deans are the scammers.

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  7. So few comments, that itself says a lot. I believe they call that willful ignorance.

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    1. I second the willful ignorance conclusion. If someone doesn't know the answer because they either have not thought of the question, or they simply don't want to ask it, that isn't really much of an excuse, is it?

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  8. Two recent encounters:

    1. I went to an alumni reception and the incoming dean of my law school alma mater was there (tier one school, but not t14). After a few drinks, I introduced myself and posed this question: Do you think the incoming class realizes that half of them will never get law jobs?

    She answered in deanspeak: "I don't think that is true. We have a small class size, so we have to worry about fewer placements than most schools, and we have an excellent reputation or I wouldn't have accepted this job. We have upgraded career services and are working outside the box to [something, something]. However I am certainly aware of the problem." She then excused herself and walked away from me. But not before I got in the last word-- "the problem is going to get worse."

    2. I spoke to a law professor at yet another bar reception (he was formerly a professor at my alma mater, but now teaches at a tier 3 school). I posed the same question as I posed to the dean: "Do you think your incoming class realizes that half of them will never get law jobs?"

    He said he thinks they do realize it, although he said the percentage of graduates who get legal jobs is slightly better than half. He said that eventually the market would rebound, but characterized the the current students as "a lost generation." However, when I countered with "structural changes," he didn't really disagree. He was, unfortunately, impressed by Davidoff's op-ed in the New York Times, and said that law school was no worse a gamble than veterinary school.

    I felt a certain sense of pity for these two highly paid and distinguished persons. Law school is something that, maybe, was not a complete scam ten or twenty years ago, but that BECAME a scam as tuitions rose and job prospects declined. These highly intelligent, progressive, and accomplished legal academics do not want to see themselves as scammers, but they are.

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    1. So proud to be part of the lost generation. Too early for cocktails?

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    2. Isn't it infuriating that something written by a nitwit like Davidoff can have so much influence, simply because it appears in the NYT?

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    3. ^ ^ ^ Not if you're in Zurich.

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    4. (Sorry, 11:51 above is directed at Crux 9:56).

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  9. Long-time lurker and non-tenure track faculty member here. I work at a school very close to the midpoint of the U.S. News rankings. I would say that the state of things among the faculty and administration is pretty close to where I was personally before I started reading this blog: I knew things were pretty bad out there, and I had a sense that some of our grads weren't doing well at all, but I had no idea how serious and all-encompassing the problem was.

    I had lunch with a colleague a few weeks ago and started talking about whatever I'd read here at the time. Her eyes got really big and she asked, "Do you think we're going to have to look for another job?" (Like me, she is untenured.)

    I didn't know what to say to that one. Our school seems to be relatively healthy financially, and there are lots of Cooley/InfiLaw/Thomas Jefferson/etc.-type schools that would presumably be in trouble before our school, but is it possible our school could be in trouble? Sure. If half the law schools in the country closed, we'd be right on the bubble, like a so-so team on Selection Sunday.

    At any rate, the state of awareness has advanced something like 1000% since LawProf started this blog: a little over a year ago, most of our faculty had no idea what the debt load was for most of our students (they'd probably have guessed it was possible to keep a five-digit debt load if students lived frugally), and had no idea that many of our students couldn't find real jobs. They still don't realize "many" refers to half or more of them, but awareness is growing.

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    1. Yeah, the whole fucking galaxy revolves around that colleague of yours.

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    2. Q: "Do you realize half of your current students will never be lawyers and will by lucky to find an escape from their student loan debts?"

      A: "Do I have to find another job?"

      (I just threw up in my mouth.)

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  10. I keep in touch with a few professors and send articles from this blog. I think graduates should organize emails and fliers to educate clueless professors and administrators. In Tier One, I suspect the profs are more insulated from reality. Some of my smart and sincere profs certaily seemed insulated until I started regularly sending stats. They seemed more startled than insulted.

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  11. I taught for a few years at a fourth-tier law school, but decided to leave chiefly because I couldn't stomach being part of an institution that was graduating so many indebted, unemployed aspiring lawyers. My former colleagues really did (and do) care about teaching and about preparing their students for the profession. But they know the score--many (most?) of their students will only practice if they try to make it as solos.

    When I ask my former colleages why they stay (apart from those who just plain need the job), I *always* get the same three-part answer:

    1) I like the work. [I agree--being a law prof is a good gig.]

    2) Law students are adults who are free to make their own choices. No one forces them to go to law school.

    3) If I don't teach here, someone else will. My leaving won't change anything (and I am better at my job that whomever would replace me). [Number 3, of course, could be used to justify almost anything: being a contract killer, selling meth... But it's a common refrain.]

    At least at my former institution, every faculty member and administrator knows employment prospects are dim--there is no knowledge gap. Moreover, said institution has grown its enrollment tremendously since the 2008 crash and has held open the option of growing further still.

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  12. My ancedone doesn't really relate to today but when I went to law school 2 1/2 years ago, so take it for what it's worth. Nevertheless, it shows the level of awareness then that can be useful perhaps for a comparison.

    When I was a 1L (about 5 years ago, and I attended a toilet school) I had a conversation w/ a prof I'll never forget. I had talked to him about how interested I was in public interest law. He retorted that every law student says that but then they all go on to graduate and try to earn as much money as possible and rarely go into public law. I answered by asking him if he didn't think the high cost of tuition had anything to do w/ it. I expounded a little bit on how the high debt burdens would prevent graduates from working in public interest. He was adamant that this played no role in why graduates never continued onto a path of public interest work.

    In my final semester of law school (in 2010), a large editorial appeared in the school newspaper (front page) by a graduate who was very angry about the job situation and the school's perceived lack of interest in their graduates' employment outcomes. It generated a lot of conversation, although I will admit, most students tended to downplay the article as written by someone who was simply bitter and was not taking responsibility for his own job situation.

    I can't say whether the school continued to publish articles on the subject in the school's newspaper, since I graduated and no longer know. But it would be interesting to know what the current students' awareness on the subject is.

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  13. 3L at American. I would say that the vast majority of 3Ls and a good many 2Ls know what a horrible decision it was to attend American. I'm on the Law Review and the conversation amongst 3Ls in the office frequently turns to the Scam. 2Ls in the office still believe the Law Review gave them something of a life boat, by 3L year they will know it means nothing. However, most of the profs are indifferent and ignorant. I know they are because in class they will say such fanciful things such as "when you start your career," "when you are a first year associate" and etc. These sayings are usually part of a joke. The prof. will laugh slightly while everyone else looks around confused and depressed.

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    1. The worst is when professors make jokes like "well, you all have negative net worth"

      (Thank you Jonathan Turley of GW)

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    2. what an awful taunt!

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    3. I'm still bitter about the girl on TLS who went to American after being repeatedly warned not to go. She needed to retake the LSAT but didn't want to because she couldn't find a job in her field of international relations.

      She was very smug about ignoring advice.

      I hope she wised up and dropped out already.

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  14. No dean is going to say something to damage their brand if they can help it, especially now. Every school out there is clinging to their "T-x0" status as if the U.S. News ranking mean anything, when all but 10-15% of law schools nationally formed a tight bell curve around 55% full-time, JD-required employment for their graduates.

    It reminds me of the first episode of "Mad Men" where Don makes the pitch to American Tobacco, sad that it can no longer claim a net benefit to one's health from smoking. American Tobacco and its competitors were all selling the same product ("the greatest advertising opportunity since the invention of cereal") to a market which physiologically couldn't buy too much of it, and the important thing was to change the conversation for smokers to something more pleasant than a grueling death by emphysema and lung cancer. Don's pitch? "Lucky Strike: It's toasted."

    Admission of the unpleasant facts just hastens one's law school towards insolvency and closure, so law schools change the conversation with their own "It's toasted" assertions, like "We're really strong regionally" and "Look at all the partners locally who graduated from this school, about 30 years ago" and "Have you seen our program in international sports law?" Eventually the Surgeon General dropped the latch on tobacco companies' advertising, and twenty years after that, class action lawsuits bankrupted some of the companies. It only took a few million addicts dying in agony to get there. Why should law students be any different?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. terry malloy October 23, 2012 9:42 AM

      It reminds me of the way the tobacco companies sanitized the language regarding carcinogens.

      Funny how you and I were having a very similar thought at the same time.

      Delete
    2. Well, they are strongly analogous industries. The difference is that the government has forced tobacco companies to be honest about what they are selling.

      Delete
    3. And the government didn't load consumers the money to purchase cigarettes.

      Delete
    4. Er, "loan." Not "load."

      Although, that is a bit funny when I think about it...

      Delete
    5. I personally like my own phrase "larded up with debt".

      I also like the phrase "debt-addled".

      You can also refer to students as "debt hoarders", since they apparently love debt so much they can't get enough.

      Delete
    6. I agree with this = as long as loans are set by the schools, clueless students will just sign the bottom line. There seems to be no limits to how much people will borrow.

      And now with IBR, students care even less how much they borrow.

      Delete
  15. @8:24 a.m.
    "Law school is something that, maybe, was not a complete scam ten or twenty years ago, but that BECAME a scam as tuitions rose and job prospects declined."

    I contend that law school was deserving of the term scam 20 years ago when I graduated. I attended a solid T2 school at half price and came out right at the top of my class, law review, a handful of AmJur awards, etc. I got no offers from OCI but was employed in a biglaw within 6 months of graduation. At least a third and probably nearly half of my classmates never got any full time job requiring a JD degree. From my review of the alumni directory and state bar directories, I estimate that at least half of those who did ever get a job requiring a JD no longer are working in a job requiring a JD. Of those who are still working in a job requiring a JD, a majority are either solo or in a small firm. A full freight debt load 20 years ago would have been about 60K with roughly the same lost opportunity costs as today.

    Go figure...in my way of looking at the world, law school has been a scam for at least 20 years. In my opinion, thankfully it is now being called what it really is and has long been...a SCAM. Let's not dignify the immoral, corrupt law school industrial complex by calling it anything else.

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    1. 8:24 here, I don't really disagree. Your anccdote about how few of your classmates ended up as career lawyers is identical to something my late father said about his class-- and he graduated from Northwestern Law in 1954. On the other hand, he was able to pay his entire law school tuition by living at home, and working two summer jobs. Nobody these days could pull that off without at least a 75% scholarship.



      Delete
  16. OT, but a great article on law school reform. I'm about halfway through but agree with 95% of his "theses"

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1994189

    ReplyDelete
  17. I graduated from Cardozo this year. As 1L's, the whole class (myself included) were delusional and thought that even if we didn't get Biglaw, we'd at least get small-firm or public interest or government jobs. Nobody spoke about debt as 1L's. Opinions changed dramatically after OCI - I had multiple conversations with fellow students during 2L year about how very few people outside the top 10% got jobs through OCI and that Cardozo was a scam. Striking out in OCI also made people get realistic about how much debt they had and how difficult it was going to be for them to pay it back. Prior to 3L year, nobody seemed to understand that there were some graduates that weren't getting any legal jobs whatsoever. In 3L year, there was widespread panic over jobs and debt. The vast majority of the class did not have a job lined up as 3L's and so most people didn't want to discuss the job market and jobs, but those who did were very hostile towards the school and pessimistic about their own prospects. Also, some 3L's were talking about IBR being their only chance to avoid defaulting on their loans. There still didn't seem to be much acknowledgement that some graduates were completely striking out when it comes to legal jobs, though, but that could have just been a psychological protective mechanism. A lot of 3L's knew about law-school-created jobs and were actually very interested in applying for them just to get some income after graduation, but no one that I knew seemed to be aware of such jobs prior to 3L year, or at least they didn't talk about it.

    Among faculty, the vast majority of the tenure-track people acknowledged that the job market is terrible and that we would all have to work very hard to find jobs. However, none of them said anything about debt or large numbers of grads not being able to find paid, long-term, full-time legal jobs. However, an adjunct professor whose class I took in the spring semester of 3L year did mention how current students have concerns about finding any job at all. Additionally, a clinic professor said during class that we were going to have trouble finding paid jobs because law school doesn't teach enough substantive skills.

    The dean, head of career services, and other administrators at Cardozo are either totally clueless or lying through their teeth. All they say is the usual "it's a tough market, but if you work hard at networking you'll eventually find something and hopefully the economy will get better soon" pablum. The administrators also love pushing students to do public interest work even though they must know there are barely any paid jobs out there in the public interest field, and they also love patting themselves on the back over how much they do both during and after law school to help students and graduates find jobs.





    ReplyDelete
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    1. Students from Cardozo reading this: run like the wind. Drop out and cut your losses. Don't be stupid and think this only happens to others.

      Delete
  18. "Additionally, a clinic professor said during class that we were going to have trouble finding paid jobs because law school doesn't teach enough substantive skills."

    That's actually nearly completely irrelevant.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Objection Urroner (well, not really)October 23, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    "... invitation for people ...to talk about their sense of how much people in their institutions have learned about various aspects of the gathering disaster .... "


    And that, Ladies and Germs, is what is known as a leading question.

    ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So what? This is not a courtroom; it's a blog with a specific purpose.

      Delete
    2. Objection Urroner (well, not really)October 23, 2012 at 12:09 PM

      "So what? "

      So what, you ask?

      I just proved you're a humourless wretch.

      How's them apples?

      Delete
  20. I teach at a lower-ranked school although our graduates seem to fare no worse than most students below the T-25 or so. It helps that our Dean has been fighting the university administration on holding the line on tuition.

    One thing I would suggest to all those on here: Remember that the academy is not monolithic. In fact, one of the principal divides is between older (often tenured) faculty members and younger ones who likely survived, or at least are fully familiar with, the blood-letting of 2008.

    I suspect that most of us in the latter group would be completely fine with an uptick in teaching loads, especially if it meant lower tuition for our students. Most of us also do not make $200,000 a year like our senior brethren do and weren't even around when law schools were raising tuition irresponsibly without any consideration of the impact on students.

    Consequently, attacking legal scholarship as useless, decrying modest research stipends that predominately go to junior faculty, and hectoring those who wish to teach at law schools . . . this will only alienate younger folks who would be open to genuine change, and are, whether you know it or not, pushing for such change and might even have a chance to affect it once some of these Baby-Boomers start to retire.




    ReplyDelete
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    1. Carthage must be footnoted!October 23, 2012 at 1:12 PM

      I am one of those in the younger group. You're right that we're more aware--we have friends who we know are hard-working who are under/not-employed. We have student loans that suck.

      But we have jobs, and they are really good jobs. We're going to pay off our student loans. We're getting to do scholarship, however useful it may or may not be.

      We can't be so sensitive to insult that we're going to turn our backs on the people who are paying our salaries. Your implication appalls me.

      We're going to be "alienated," and avoid genuine change because a handful of people who are being crushed by unemployment and debt don't think our law review articles are worth it? That's ridiculously petty.

      The law school crisis is not about our egos. We shouldn't be fixing things so that our students say, "Wow, you really are an awesome person!" We should be doing it because it is the right thing to do.

      This isn't about us. It's about our students.

      Delete
    2. This was a really good comment. I guess that there are two adults in the room, counting Campos of course.

      Delete
    3. You want people to stop talking about how terrible law schools have been for years with their lies and data, and to stop talking about the employment data, just so you can keep your job going?

      That's right. As people slowly wise up and stop going to school, who is getting fired? You guys.

      Stop trying to cover your ass in the guise of wanting to help.

      And, we don't need your help to succeed.

      Delete
  21. Anyone save the entire ABA placement report??October 23, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    LP, I hope you or Deb saved somewhere the entire 2010 and 2011 placement report spreadsheets, because they're no longer available in the same format from ABA (link below).

    2010 data is completely gone, and notably, they seem to have excised from the 2011 data the one very useful bit - jobs requiring JD. (At least, it doesn't appear any more on the reports I've just run.)

    http://employmentsummary.abaquestionnaire.org/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All of the data are on www.lawschooltransparency.com -- and much more readable/comparable there. Nevertheless, I alerted the ABA today of this and they are aware.

      Delete
    2. Anyone save the entire ABA placement report??October 23, 2012 at 5:47 PM

      Kyle, thanks for the reply. Hope all is going well with you in the big ATL.

      As for notifying the ABA, though, I can't help but wonder if the change was not purposeful. I mean, how does their data engine change like that accidentally?

      P.S. - ANY of you readers who value the work of LST in getting the real data extracted (like obstreperous teeth) from law schools and the ABA - consider supporting LST.

      Delete
    3. I do have the original 2011 spreadsheet, but what is going on here? The ABA deleted info related to part-time work as well as the bar-required distinction. Disturbing.

      Delete
    4. Anyone save the entire ABA placement report?October 23, 2012 at 7:10 PM

      "...deleted info related to part-time work as well "

      Ug, you're right. I had missed that. So now, all you know is whether the employment is temporary or "long term" (even if "long term" means a 5 hour per week job).

      Delete
    5. The ABA essentially mandates that law school be expensive as hell. Their committees are fielded with the most crooked and corrupt law school participants. They send you magazine renewals as though you ever gave a shit to get them in the first place. No, I don't want an ABA credit card. Any faith put in the ABA to not act as part of the worst of this situation is misplaced in my opinion.

      Delete
  22. @ JP, 8:07 a.m. Suggested new blog name,

    "Non Campos Mentis".




    ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Carthage must be footnoted!October 23, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    I teach at a school solidly in the second tier. And by "teach" I mean "am a tenure-track professor on leave of absence, because I cannot figure out how to ethically be a law professor given the current situation."

    (This outs me to my colleagues and students, some of whom do read this blog. I don't imagine there's more than one professor on leave of absence who has my stated objections to law school. Hi!)

    I've actually been fairly outspoken about the law school crisis. And I'm not the only one on the faculty--there are a few other people on our faculty who have been adamant about the serious problems that legal education face. So take this with the grains of observation bias: the people who are most likely to talk to me are the people who are most likely to agree with me, and that skews the percentages I observe. I've tried to correct for that in what follows.

    I think that about 50% of the faculty recognize how serious the problem is, and of those, maybe half of them believe the problems are structural and not a function of the down economy, and will correct themselves in the next five or six years.

    The impression I get talking to people from other institutions is that our school is perhaps more aware of the problem than the norm.

    Being on leave of absence--and it's really only been a few months now--has made me realize how much being inside the law school system really does change your perspective. It's hard to see the world through any eyes except a law professor's eyes if you're a law professor.

    When you're not a law professor, you notice ridiculous shit. Like the fact that the way your school has come to terms with the fact that employment outcomes, honestly reported, would hurt their chances of recruiting students...is that your brand new glossy brochure touting the awesomeness of your school now contains no reference whatsoever to employment numbers.

    Go us, go.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, always good to get another set of data points.

      But what good does it do you to be half-way out of the closet? Embrace freedom, Prof!

      Delete
  24. I'm a 1L at lower T14. On the last day of orientation, two of the deans told my section something to the effect of, "The job market--we know. We know how bad it is. We know you know how bad it is. {Insert stuff about upcoming networking events, improvements to CSO, importance of networking, etc} We will do absolutely everything we can to help you get the job you want, but we can't guarantee it, and frankly, not all of you will get it." The honesty was unexpected and refreshing (even though the news was not good, knowing they aren't in denial is somehow comforting), and then I thought, wait--is this a disclaimer to cover their ass against any potential future lawsuits a la Anziska?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Was this prior to any final refund deadline?

      If so, I'd lean toward CYA disclaimers. If after, then I'd be more inclined to credit coming to grips with the situation and honest sharing.

      Delete
    2. 1L at Cornell here (not same as lower T14 1L above). Cornell's dean of admissions, Richard Geiger, said during orientation that this past application cycle, there was more negativity and skepticism regarding law school than during his entire 25-year tenure as dean of admissions. But, he reassured us, "There has never been a better time to go to law school."

      Delete
    3. Never been a better time... ...LOL, kiddies, here: Have Some LSCool-Aid!

      Delete
  25. someone wrote:
    "LP, I hope you or Deb saved somewhere the entire 2010 and 2011 placement report spreadsheets, because they're no longer available in the same format from ABA"


    ha ha...they are probably covering their tracks.

    remember ABA/NALP/law schools: the wheels of justice may turn slowly, but they do grind fine....

    ReplyDelete
  26. PrawfsBlawg currently has a thread going on for people applying to become law profs. People write in to say where they got comments or dings. "Skeptic" left a comment asking how these candidates justify teaching at schools that can't place students. I chimed in to support starting a thread to answer "Skeptic's" question. And . . . they deleted my comment.

    http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2012/10/law-school-hiring-2012-2013-thread-two-1/comments/page/2/#comments

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "where they got callbacks"

      Delete
    2. I am absotively a nobodyOctober 23, 2012 at 5:51 PM

      And prawgsblawg deletes all of my comments. My comments always, always, by the way, adhere to their T&C.

      But they really don't like dissent over there. Interferes with Central Planning, ya know.

      Delete
    3. Interesting. I think that's pretty telling that one is not allowed to ask the latest crop of aspiring law profs why they are aspiring to join the scam.

      Delete
  27. 2L at a "top 50" school. Generally: I get the feeling that the professors know the situation, but feel like they can't say anything to us, while other students genuinely don't understand employment outcomes or how their debt works.

    My classmates like to talk about what kind of law they're interested in, as if we'll all have the leisure of cherry-picking from tons of jobs when we graduate. If I point out our actual chances at jobs, I'm told I'm just being a pessimist. I have to assume my classmates don't understand the employment statistics, as otherwise half of them should have dropped out after the first year.

    In the context of one of our classes, this semester a professor mentioned the tax bomb at the end of student loan forgiveness, and several students audibly gasped - obviously not having undertaken to understand the terms of the loans they've taken out. Several professors have referred to a "tough" job market, but I don't know if that includes an understanding of no jobs + huge debt.

    I myself made a calculated risk when I enrolled, relying on employment statistics that have gotten exponentially worse in the year since then. I recognize from my ranking that I fall within the category of people who will be clawing their way into the shittiest jobs. All of this while having survivor's guilt for getting off "easy" with only 60k of debt taken out (with a scholarship), as opposed to my classmates with lesser grades and dimmer job prospects.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Look, (wo)man, sometimes you've gotta cut and runOctober 23, 2012 at 5:59 PM

      I'm sorry this reply is so late in following your comment.

      Kudos and points to you for clearly understanding the issues you and your classmates face, even if your peers are still in large part clueless or resistant to facing what's staring them in the face.

      Now (based solely on your post above), how about you stare down and accept the idea that it may be time for you to bail?

      I know it's hard to contemplate - you're most likely a person like many of us who have never failed to finish anything we started, and for who "quitting" feels like, well, "quitting".

      Still - the odds as you have mentioned have worsened in just the year since you made your calculated risk. When is it time to cut your losses?

      Think about it. At least, think about taking a temporary leave of absence. It's worth serious consideration.

      Delete
    2. Look, (wo)man... (addendum)October 23, 2012 at 6:00 PM

      Crap, I can't believe I used 3 various forms of the word "face" in a single sentence. Sorry about that.

      Delete
  28. I was at a function, within the last couple of years, of Columbia Law alumni where the Dean of Columbia Law School said that the most recent graduating class had 99% employment and that the decline in legal jobs "Does not affect Columbia." This was during a period when Columbia was funding post-law school jobs.

    The other problem is that like other law schools, Columbia releases no experienced job statistics. While some experienced grads are doing fine, many grads, especially women and minorities, and especially those who have aged out of BigLaw, are not doing great. It is so misleading to post these great 9 months from graduation results (Columbia is clearly at the top of the heap on these) when the long-term employment statistics, at the median are likely much less rosy.

    One thing we want to know - are these BigLaw outfits placing the people they jettison, and for how long? As a profession, we should not be valuing BigLaw jobs that do not lead to a career where a law degree has economic value and gives the holder the ability to be reasonably paid for his or her services.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Excellent point.

      As this point, with the schools almost universally recognized (here) as hopelessly corrupt and self-serving, the best source of data on the "health" of the profession (longer-term) might be a statistical analysis of the online law firm directories (Martindale, etc.).

      The directories could provide a segmentation analysis of various firm sizes, geographic locations, feeder law schools, etc.

      The data accumulated could then be compared with the ABA's aggregate statistics (indeed, the ABA itself may have a treasure trove of unreleased detailed data - otherwise, how did they generate their aggregated stats - http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/marketresearch/PublicDocuments/lawyer_demographics_2012_revised.authcheckdam.pdf)

      I wonder if these directories would make there databases available for academic research, LawProf.

      Delete
    2. ahem...my kingdom for an edit function...there=their...

      Delete
  29. Fordham 2L here. Was shocked last year when one of my favorite professors (tenure track) who seems like a totally not-clueless guy looked at me with genuine confusion when I told him about this blog, "No... no... maybe students are having trouble other places but not at a school like Fordham."

    Another one of my favorite professors, an adjunct who practiced for 27 years, said Campos was engaging in "hyperbole" by calling it a 'scam'. To his credit - he linked to this blog on his page which is how I found it.

    Most of the professors seem clueless - always dropping the "when you start in your practice" sentences as if its a foregone conclusion.

    My fellow 1Ls last year were generally COMPLETELY clueless. Most of them seemed to think that a "bad" outcome would be a full time job that paid 60k/year. I think OCI was a huge smack of reality for most of them....... I'm trying to get a handle on just how bad it was, but it is really a TABOO subject. The few of us with offers feel like jerks bringing it up, and those without are ashamed.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Ah there is some idiot on TLS claiming that the worst outcome he could see from a T6 (I think) is a job making 80K in NYC. Like this was the absolute worst outcome. He had some other ridiculous points figuring that the kids from the top 30 or so school will all get jobs, I didn't follow that one. Sad thing is that these cases don't understand that their lack of comprehension of reality is a perfect indicator of how poorly they will do in school (and no that isn't a scientific study, just based on instinct)

      Then another idiot 0L argued about how he will work hard, have a good attitude and crush law school.

      They have been politely shown why they are wrong by a couple of people, including a mod who just graduated from Harvard.

      But here is the best part, you ready?

      This was in a thread about reading Lawprof's book.

      I kid you not.

      http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=195591

      Delete
    2. I was in a call center about 2 years ago, calling deadbeats to collect debts. And two seats from me? A grad of UVA Law with an MS from NYU. 10 clams an hour....

      Delete
  30. Hello Fordham 2L. Let your incredulous favorite professors know that the data Fordham provided to the ABA for the class of 2011 shows that... drumroll please....

    ... just about 50% of their 2011 new grads secured full time JD-required jobs (the 4 law-school jobs are excluded).

    You might want to remind them that this is not hyperbole generated by Campos. It's data supplied by Fordham to the ABA.

    It's also quite easily available on the internet via the ABA website and (converted to cute easier-to-view graphics) via Law School Transparency's website.

    You would think that such sophisticated purveyors of legal education would, at a minimum, have enough intellectual curiosity about their own school to seek out this easily available information.

    Guess head-in-sand is a more comfortable affect, though.

    Unfortunate.

    ReplyDelete
  31. My feeling is that professor's are so smug and confident about their school and it's cachet, that they feel any student who doesn't get a job has a personality problem. I know Columbia feels that you need should be able to magicly waft into a job. If you don't find one you are damaged goods with issues, not their fault.

    They all think these numbers don't apply to them.

    And they may really feel that their tuition should be that high because that is what everyone charges.

    Did you notice the lack of outrage by the one person who posted as to the cost of the education? I'm sure he has the attitude of "sure school is expensive, but the salaries are so high."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sorry for the wrong apostrophes - been up all night for a deal.

      Delete
  32. The BigLaw firms are creating the same degree of lawyer surplus as the law schools.

    In my practice area, younger lawyers, 15 or so years out of law school, are in demand at BigLaw. There is a huge group of former BigLaw lawyers who have more experience and cannot get jobs at BigLaw. Unfortunately, there are not enough other comparable jobs for these lawyers to go to.
    Unemployment for older lawyers - those who have aged out of BigLaw - is the norm for my peers.
    The situation gets worse every year because BigLaw blindly trains many more lawyers in each area than the job market can support outside BigLaw and then forces those lawyers out.
    Most vulnerable are older women and minorities. The problem you have is that older lawyers who are not in top positions are not a "fit" (how many groups of close friends do you know that have people with 10 or more years of age gaps hanging around together), and firing on account of "fit" is perfectly lawful. That has happened to many of my collegues.
    Because of the well publicized lawyer glut, employers can and do take advantage of the situation. There is always someone young coming from a reasonably top employment situation, and those are the people who are hired. This was not the situation several years ago when the profession was less glutted.
    Bottom line- law, even from a top school is just like acting. Some people can work when they are old, but realistically, you need to prepare for spending a substantial part of the second half of your career unemployed.

    Other careers may have problems, but lack of work for the number of bodies available to work is fatal. The legal profession today is all about lack of work.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I read the posts on Top Law Schools cited above. Problem is that one cannot post anonymously on that thread, so no one is going to tell the readers there the true story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can create a throwaway account with a created email account just for TLS.

      Once you have an account you can post anonymously in some forums. Only the mods can see the forum name of the poster.

      Delete
  34. I went to Rutgers Camden. Most professors seemed oblivious to the employment crisis. If they did acknowledge it, it was only to accuse students of not networking enough. And they would say things like "Don't feel like you have to take a BigLaw firm," as if we had a choice. And like an earlier commenter observed, whenever a professor discussed our hypothetical employment, it was always in terms that assumed BigLaw employment: "when you're a first year associate..."

    Perhaps more frustrating were my fellow students, too many of whom seemed completely oblivious to their employment prospects.
    I think one way the Rut lulls 3Ls into complacency is by shunting so many grads into state-trial court clerkships. The career service sells these positions hard. In 2011, 42% of the class took clerkships (second only to Yale!). http://camlaw.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/charts.pdf
    Of course the school plays down the fact that 92% of the positions are state trial dead ends. And because statistics aren't kept about employment after clerkships, everyone just assumes things will just work out (Think of all the lawyers you're going to meet! No, it's not unethical to network with a lawyer trying a case before your judge.).

    One question: Does anyone know how NJ law schools put such a large percentage of their graduates in junk clerkships? Do the law schools have a special deal with the court system? Or are lots of schools doing this?

    ReplyDelete
  35. I had a long chat near the end of my 3L year with a GWU professor who had previously worked in a government agency entwined in the subprime mortgage crisis. When we started talking employment outcomes for 3Ls he sighed. "I know. I almost didn't come back to academia. After spending years fighting scams from the bottom, I know what they look like. I didn't want to benefit from another one. And this is a scam."

    He then went on to justify his coming back on the grounds that since he knew about it, he could change it. But he bemoaned his colleagues who didn't get it yet -- of which there are many at GWU.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So how is this professor fighting the scam from his position at one of the worst scamming trap schools in the country?

      Would like to know his plan

      Delete

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