Saturday, October 27, 2012

Five facts

I participated yesterday in a panel discussing Affordability and Access to Legal Education at the Washington University School of Law. This panel was part of a broader symposium on "The Law School in the New Legal Environment." Here are the five facts (together with slides) that I offered during my ten minutes:

Fact one: In real dollars, the median starting salary for law school graduates is lower today than it was twenty years ago. In 1991, the median was $40,000. In 2011, it was $60,000—but that’s the equivalent of $36,330 after adjusting for inflation. Median starting salary, in other words, has declined by 9.2%.

The decline is not simply an artifact of the recent recession. This graph shows median starting salary (in red) compared to the Consumer Price Index (in light blue) for the full 20 years. As you can see, the two track one another quite closely. We've all heard about rapid rises in BigLaw salaries, but those increases did not trickle down to most law graduates. For the average graduate, salaries have risen only with inflation.

The "median" salary, moreover, is closer to the seventy-fifth percentile. Only about half of law graduates report their salaries, and the unreported salaries skew heavily to the low end of the spectrum. The salaries we see on this graph, therefore, mark the high end of starting salaries earned by about three-quarters of law graduates.

Fact two: Large numbers of law graduates cannot find full-time, permanent jobs. Here are the employment results, measured nine months after graduation, for the class of 2011 at six law schools among the top 100 schools ranked by U.S. News. To avoid playing favorites, I chose every fifteenth school on that list. That method eliminated the top fourteen schools, for which outcomes are somewhat more favorable--although far from ideal. My method then generated a quick view of outcomes at the remaining top 100 law schools.

At each of these schools, one quarter to one third of 2011 graduates were unemployed, working part-time, or working in a temporary job. Those were outcomes measured a full nine months after graduation--and among the top half of all law schools.

Applicants to these schools still talk about landing high-paid jobs in BigLaw, but here's how many really achieve that feat.  I’ve defined BigLaw generously here, to include all firms with more than 250 attorneys, not just those with more than 500 attorneys.

At each of these schools, the chance of landing a BigLaw job was less than the chance of being un- or underemployed nine months after graduation. At three of the schools in this sample, as at many others, less than 5% of the graduates got BigLaw jobs. And once again, we’re still looking at schools that rank among the top 100 nationally.

Fact three: There are not enough lawyering jobs. The top line here (in red) represents the number of JD graduates from ABA-accredited law schools during the last five years. The bottom line (in yellow) shows the number of them who, by nine months after graduation, had obtained a full-time job requiring bar admission.

The jobs included in that yellow line aren't all ones that pay stable salaries or benefits. Some of them were temporary document review positions, others represent solo practitioners. This yellow line depicts all of the full-time jobs requiring a law license that our graduates were able to find.

As you can see, accredited law schools are graduating significantly more JDs than the legal market can absorb. It is true that some JDs use their degree in other fields, but surveys suggest that most of them would rather practice law (more on that in another post soon). There just aren’t enough lawyering jobs to occupy all of our graduates.

Note that this job gap pre-dates the recession. It is getting worse, but this is no temporary setback.

Fact four: While starting salaries have stagnated, and jobs have declined, law school tuition has steadily increased. This graph shows the median starting salaries and consumer prices that I showed you before. In this version, I've added the average cost of three years' tuition at both public (in-state) and private law schools. Schools today are claiming a much greater share of the financial return that their graduates earn.

It is true that schools award more scholarships today than they did twenty years ago, but that doesn’t change the picture. In this slide, I replace tuition with the average amounts that students borrowed to finance their law school educations. I only have those numbers for the last ten years, rather than twenty, but you can see that the lines are virtually identical to the tuition lines. Law school costs much more than it did twenty years ago, and students are borrowing heavily to fund that difference.

Fact Five: The market for legal services has changed dramatically—and it will continue to change. Technology, global competition, and unbundling have reshaped the job market much more than most professors recognize. The three most important trends for our graduates are:

  • The number of highly paid legal jobs has declined, and will continue to do so. The economy will always need highly skilled, highly compensated lawyers--but a high-tech, globally competitive, and unbundled profession won't support nearly as many of those lawyers as it did in the past.
  • Instead, more legal jobs are modestly paid "service" positions. Some service lawyers represent individual clients in family, criminal, or other matters. These jobs provide strong personal satisfaction to some of the lawyers who take them, but they don't repay lawyers for the high cost of today's legal education. Other service lawyers perform standardized work for corporate clients: They review discovery documents or generate routine contracts. This work resembles the tasks that law firm associates used to perform, but it has been "unbundled." These service lawyers are paid less; they often work on a contract or contingent basis; and they are not being trained for more sophisticated work.
  • The biggest revolution has happened quietly outside the confines of our profession. There has been a vast increase in the number of non-lawyers who do legal tasks. Most HR managers, compliance officers, and contract administrators are not lawyers; they are BA's with specialized training. Nonlawyers also represent clients before administrative agencies. All of these "law-related" workers consult occasionally with legal counsel, but they perform day-to-day tasks that lawyers might have once done.
Taken together, these trends explain why median starting salaries have stagnated while the number of lawyering jobs is falling. The trends are irreversible; we have to adapt to them, not ignore them.

The symposium audience, which included professors, deans, practitioners, judges, and clients, seemed to accept the truth of these facts--which other speakers also stressed. There was also general acknowledgement that, to quote (loosely) Wash U's Dean Kent Syverud, "we are sailing stormy seas in which many of us will get wet and some will drown." Kudos to Kent and Wash U for an excellent conference: This was yet another step on the road from denial to acceptance and action.

96 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Anonymi,

      Yes we can *all* agree that you idiots are, in point of fact, #1 and #2 (in the scatological sense).

      Now, *please* shut up and let the grownups talk.

      Delete
    2. I'm confused. How can one be #1 in a scatological sense?


      :-0

      Delete
  2. This is what I mean about this blog:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92vV3QGagck

    When, as Nando might say, the "Reality" is that after the game is before the game.

    Josef Herberger

    ----------


    The ball is round. The game lasts 90 minutes. Everything else is pure theory. That's a fact.

    Run Lola. RUN!!!!!!!!!!!

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  3. Re: Lola

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhR7RFt12D8

    ReplyDelete
  4. Here is one very slim way out of American Stuent Loan Debt:

    Watch it all, and Scream your lungs out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ed82P9ZY8A

    ReplyDelete
  5. The de-professionaliztion so aptly documented by these five facts is directly attributable to the entry of women into law in large numbers. While equality of the sexes is arguably justified philosophically, empirically you see the same thing across fields-as women enter in large numbers pay and prestige fall. Teaching, architecture, primary-care physicians are all good examples in addition to law. Only fields that few women (seem) able to master continue to command a wage premium-surgery, petroleum engineering, tech in general (though there de-professionalization is happening due to immigration), high-end finance.

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    Replies
    1. Probably not PosnerOctober 27, 2012 at 4:57 PM

      I was thinking about the issue of women and wages in relationship to biology PhDs today. I do think there is something to the fact that although women surely should be able to work/get education equal to men on moral grounds, the fact that many women are willing to work at a slightly reduced rate or part-time because interested in raising children probably does keep wages down in fields where they are heavily represented.

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    2. Probably not PosnerOctober 27, 2012 at 5:02 PM

      DC--re: tech and immigration. I was thinking about how the US is basically outsourcing a lot of its research by hiring immigrants who will work for less, and thus dampening wages more generally. Is it possible to see this issue as analogous to the trade deficit--that is, even if the US can buy scientific research more cheaply by using immigrant labor, there might be reasons (such as national security) that we still want to see Americans doing this work?

      I also wonder if there are limits to outsourcing things like doc review--even if it is cheaper, at some point maybe there are advantages to keeping that work here (such as reduced IP leaks)?

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    3. Well, in Dubai, they've in-sourcced just about everything, including much of the military, to immigrants. I myself am an immigrant there, having grown up in (East-go Lebanese Forces!) Beirut. It's wealth–maximizing for the holders of capital so I don't see it ending anytime soon there or in the US either.

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    4. Actually the entry of women into the profession is not correlated with any of these factors. I believe the scapegoat you are looking for is the endless greed of the white men who ran the profession into the ground.

      Delete
  6. Probably not PosnerOctober 27, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    Saw a Kaplan LSAT instructor ad today--they now prefer their instructors to have JDs. Guess that counts as a JD-advantage job?

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    Replies
    1. Presumably their customers (struggling to get into the "prestigious" "top 100") are too daft to figure out that JDs who are working there were unable to find jobs as lawyers.

      Delete
    2. Not a Kaplan Fear-VampireOctober 28, 2012 at 12:47 PM

      I don't understand why their instructors would not always have had JDs? Certainly, they would want instructors who had done well on the exam itself. Why take the exam but not go to LS?

      Or do people take the exam simply to become qualified to be an instructor? (Possible I suppose.)

      I did see a Kaplan advert for instructors a month or so back and noted that sub-170 LSATs need not apply for the job...

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    3. The guy who taught my LSAT class worked as a staff attorney at a court as his day job. At least he kind of had a regular job.

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    4. I should have thought that most of the people who teach at those places were law students. That people who scored 170+ are reduced to teaching there after graduation says something about the state of the job market.

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    5. I teach the LSAT, scored in the high-170s, and never went to law school. I would venture that I'm not the norm, but also that I'm far from being alone. One would hope that at least a fair number of people with exceptional scores on a test that claims to measure analytical and logical reasoning skills would be able to figure out that law school is, under the current circumstances, a bad choice. Also, people with these scores probably (not always) have other options...I know I did.

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    6. Also, teaching the LSAT is a great side job for people with a salaried position and relatively predictable hours. I am able to teach weekends and nights, and this work generates enough supplemental income to pay for a nice car, without having to dip into my regular income, which goes to house/food/clothes/etc.

      The main challenge is with work-related travel, but, since I can usually schedule the teaching load around my travel, it hasn't been a deal-breaker. The only other issue is that the income puts me into an AGI where certain tax credits start to phase out, so the effective marginal rate on the LSAT work is pretty brutal (45% of your earnings being taken by the government is kind of depressing). This is probably the one thing that will eventually make me quit, unless my circumstances change.

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    7. (To the LSAT instructor)October 29, 2012 at 10:56 AM

      First, thanks for the insights and discussion.

      Second, not only do you have to look forward to losing all child tax and other credits, having your deductions limited via formula, etc.

      AMT is also waiting for you. (Which by the way makes all deductions, personal exemptions, and credits moot in any event.)

      AMT wouldn't be so painful if the IRS didn't make one first calculate the "regular way" (and think they might be entitled to a small refund), only to find (after completing the AMT calc) that they actually owe a few thousand. Fun, eh?

      Delete
  7. Honestly, I'm disappointed the panel didn't discuss more. It is getting time for the legal academia to move pass there aren't enough jobs and tuition is expensive. Where are all the big ideas from these intellectuals?

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    Replies
    1. Actually, people presented quite a number of ideas. I made five recommendations, and other panelists made others. I plan to write about those soon. There's no magic bullet, and no reform will please everyone, but more ideas are starting to emerge. The drop in applicants has shaken up law schools even more than I would have expected--threatened extinction seems like a strong incentive for change.

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    2. Good to hear, I look forward to reading about your recommendations.

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    3. DJM,

      I wonder if any data has been gathered indicating that the "surplus atty" problem *long* predates the 2008 downturn (even though 08 economic collapse seems to be the excuse de jour for those resisting change).

      When I look at the ABA demographic data

      (http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/marketresearch/PublicDocuments/lawyer_demographics_2012_revised.authcheckdam.pdf)

      and the BLS statistics

      (http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers.htm and http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes231011.htm)

      I see hundreds of thousands of JDs and licensed lawyers who have somehow vanished between the campus and the workforce.

      That *army* of the unemployed did not arise solely post-2008...

      I think the surfacing of the issue *now* may have a lot more to do with the rise of blogging software (and therefore scambloggers) than with the actual existence of the problem - which may go back 20 to 25 *years*.

      Why does this matter?

      Well, a certain judge one could mention used the existence of alternative sources of data to absolve law schools of any responsibility for the completeness of their employment disclosures.

      But this "alternate data availability" defense (which is weak for *many* reasons) is ever weaker as one goes further back in time (pre-ABA releases, pre-scamblogs, pre-blogs, pre-internet).

      And my bitterly won sense is that the schools have been cooking the books for a *long* time.

      There are *many* potential causes of action that can be levied against the schools and *generations* of motivated plaintiffs - who are only now coming to awareness of the frauds that have been perpetrated upon them.

      Delete
    4. Probably not PosnerOctober 28, 2012 at 6:02 AM

      cas127--Interesting points about blogging raising awareness. I clearly remember being told as much as a decade ago that there was a large over-supply of lawyers. I wonder if, sadly, attention is also only being paid now because unemployment is starting to hit the best schools?

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    5. Just want to reiterate that in spite of the scam my US LLM will pay off for me!

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    6. Probably not PosnerOctober 28, 2012 at 8:59 AM

      DG--What is OCI hiring like for you as a foreign LLM as compared to your JD friends?

      Delete
    7. JD's get more interviews at my t7 school.

      Delete
  8. Sounds like this was a great contribution to a good symposium.

    I would like to add to the discussion by introducing another reason why the global legal market and easy access to that market in the form of foreign legal talent and foreign jurisdictions has exacerbated the decline in business for Big and Mid US law firms. I am inhouse counsel for a multinational corporation and am frequently in contractual negotiations with the counsel from other companies. If anyone in this blog ever wants to make a room full of foreign attorneys either gasp in horror or laugh out loud, just suggest US law and juridiction.

    Until the early 80's, most international companies preferred US jurisdiction because of the judicial expertise and predictability. The situation has changed dramatically in the last 30 years and a major structural (I would say) defect in the US court system has been exposed.
    Unlike most other countries, there is no seperate federal court for commercial cases in the US District Courts. In England, for example, the court of first instance is the Queen's bench, and there is a seperate commercial division where commercially trained judges only hear commercial cases. We do not have a seperate commercial division and political and legal developments in the US over the past thirty years have aggrevated this situtaion for several reasons:

    1. Judges- Because the selection of judges has become so intenseley partisan, the trend has been to nominate professionally young judges who will be on the bench for a long time. These judges have not had the opportunity to engage in a large number of complex commercial matters and most do not have any commercial experience at all.

    2. Length of Time to Verdict- Ever since the 1980's war on drugs, most judges have dockets clogged with habeas cases. In fact, most of the case load of US District judges consists of criminal cases. Other matters, such as commercial cases, have to be worked in and around the criminal cases. Therefore, the time to verdict or resolution is a lot longer in the US than in other similarly situated jurisdictions.

    3. Jury System- We still have this vestigial jury system for commercial cases which other jurisdictions largely have abolished. Juries make cases less predictable and more costly.

    4. Alternate Suitable Venues Now Exist- Now, there aare good dispute resolution centers all over the world. For example, in the past decade, I've seen a significant move of legal cases to Singapore and a few of the major insurance carriers in the industry in which I practice give a hefty discount of premiums if the insured incorporates Singapore law and jurisdiction in their standard contracts.


    Biglaw and many mid-sized firms are sustained by commercial activity. A side effect of the globalization of commerce has been to direct legal matters to other jurisdictions to the extent that only matters which absolutely have to be in the US are directed to US legal firms. This trend will continue and US firms will need fewer attorneys to handle the reduced case load.

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    Replies
    1. Interesting. What about Delaware though?

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    2. Very interesting. I suspected that companies were starting to turn to UK and other lawyers as their primary counsel--retaining US lawyers only as necessary for US business. But I hadn't thought about the additional (and perhaps stronger) impact of wanting to resolve disputes in other countries. We so readily assume in the US that our products and services are the best. Clearly that's not always true.

      Delete
    3. Probably not PosnerOctober 27, 2012 at 8:28 PM

      Yep, really interesting. So when foreign LLMs come here, why do they pick the US v. one of these other countries? What's their thinking? I feel that we assume we can keep tapping foreign LLMs to generate law school revenue, but maybe not if US law ceases to be in such demand.

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    4. I sought my LLM here on the basis of advice from my Britsh firm's partners. US is still the biggest economy so need to know something about it. But for sure UK puches above their weight and is big in places like Singapore, Hong Kong, S. Africa and the special finance zone in Dubai.

      Delete
    5. Well, a new parallel "commercial court" system in the US *would* create a few thousand more jobs for lawyers...

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    6. DubaiGuy- concerning Delaware, it's a good place to incorporate in the US along with other company freindly states like Nevada due to anonymity of directors, liability, etc., but the state courts of Delaware is not where mosst moderate to major commercial disputes will be resolved. Foreign interests will not accept the state courtss of Delaware in a jurisdiction clause. by the way, in what area of the law did you obtain your LL.M.? Just curious as to how you are applying it in Dubai.

      PNP- It depends on the LL.M. program More and more LL.M. students are enrolling in programs outside the US due to cost and visa redtape. And obtaining an LL.M. in the US does not mean that either you are studying only US law or are going to incorpoarte US law+jurisdiction in your future practice.

      Delete
    7. @edwoof,
      Just doing my LLM now. Focused on corporate, M&A, securities. Will likely return to my British firm in Dubai to do India-oriented M&A but would like to do a stint in a Wall St. firm first.

      Delete
    8. @DubaiGuy- Best of Luck! Dubai is certainly a great place for young professionals to be these days. Not to interfere, but it seems that since Dubaai adopted English commercial law and you certainly have the same in India, it might be better to spend some time in London rather than on Wall Street.

      Delete
    9. Good point edwoof. I will arrange some interviews in London for the Christmas break.

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    10. Holiday break.

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    11. "If anyone in this blog ever wants to make a room full of foreign attorneys either gasp in horror or laugh out loud, just suggest US law and juridiction."


      This seems entirely overstated. I'm in an F50-sized company and we frequently use US law in contracts with EU-based companies. We also often use UK laws, Swiss law (ug, patchwork canton-by-canton) and other.

      But to say that non-US companies gasp in horror at the suggestion of US choice of laws is either invention or hyperbole.

      Delete
  9. DJM and lawprof

    Storm related issues will keep me and probably other commenters off the blog for a while.

    Don't think it is because we have lost interest.

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  10. DJM,
    Thank you very much for the post. Can you tell us how the applicant numbers for the 2013 entering class compare to the 2012 entering class at this point?

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  11. I'd like to comment on the dynamic you missed. In the 1980s cocaine was 100 $ a gram. Now it is less than half and sometimes a third of that, in nominal dollars. So, in that sense lawyers are much, much richer.

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  12. ...but booze has gone up considerably.

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  13. So, my question is, why don't doctors have the same problem. Doctors largely are in the same educational system as lawyers.

    However, there is a shortage of doctors. Doctors are being imported from Africa, the Middle East and similar areas. Perhaps those doctors are more needed in their home countries?

    Doctors make a lot more money than lawyers.

    Doctors can have their student loans forgiven.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Probably not PosnerOctober 28, 2012 at 7:38 AM

      A few preliminary thoughts:

      1. Law schools are much cheaper than med schools to run, so there is more incentive to build them. I was reading yesterday about how there are waitlists to get into nursing courses at some schools.
      2. The AMA protects the profession more--though there are a lot of arguments over whether, for example, nurse practitioners can do more.
      3. Everyone everywhere needs a doctor.

      Most doctors I talk to feel that their profession is getting less attractive (higher debt, less autonomy, shrinking or flat salary), but I agree that it still seems preferable to law.

      Delete
    2. I would probably have made a much better doctor than a lawyer.

      I've always been much stronger in math and science that I am in the area of writing.

      However, people generally pick a career out of a vending machine because they are on the K-JD track.

      I'm not sure how you figure out what to go do with yourself when the only thing you have ever done is attend school and you have no idea about life outside of school.

      Delete
    3. Probably not PosnerOctober 28, 2012 at 8:56 AM

      Another thought: It's really hard to go to med school if you don't decide at 18 that you want to be on the pre-med track. The people I know who were late deciders ended up having to go back and take college courses after graduation to meet the pre-reqs. Generally they were all well-off people whose parents could pay for this. Whereas it's easy to switch to law school.

      (Though, of course, this doesn't speak directly to the question of why not more docs, since there are still far more med applicants than school slots).

      Delete
    4. I'm not on the K–JD track; I couldn't afford that. I had to defer university, and twice came close to dropping out, because of money. I had to work right after graduation. Further study in any field just wasn't possible, owing to student loans that could not be deferred.

      But my line of work went into decline, and I was left unemployed, with no chance of getting back into that profession (I tried for years).

      Now I'm finishing law school at the top of my class, with much else to recommend me; yet, owing to my age (forties), I cannot get so much as an interview, never mind a job. People think me a damn fool for having gone into law past the age of 25. Perhaps I was. But if the profession be limited to the K–JD set, then I was kept out from birth, because I don't come from a class that can afford K–JD.

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    5. Probably not PosnerOctober 28, 2012 at 10:24 AM

      Interestingly, I know several people in late-30s, early-40s who went to law school and found law jobs. But the one thing they all had in common is that they had previously started or completed a PhD. So assuming this is a representative sample (a big if) there is an interesting class dynamic there since people with PhDs tend to come from higher classes (since less worried with making money) and don't have any record of having previously been in a job or industry that for whatever reason didn't pan out.

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    6. Probably not PosnerOctober 28, 2012 at 10:25 AM

      In other words, they were K-PhD/JD. We could call them K-JD+.

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    7. Remember you get paid for some Ph.D.'s.

      So, if you have a full scholarship for undergrad and then get a Ph.D. with a stipend, that's certainly doable even if you don't have any money.

      The engineer friends who I've had (civil/mechanical) with industry experience and then law school didn't do too well in the law firm environment.

      They started as associates at age 35-40.

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    8. Lurker here. I'm in my mid-30s and recently finished an Art History masters. I've tried some gallery stints and museum internships, but paid positions are scarce. I keep thinking about law school. I have a high enough LSAT to get into a t10 school, but I really wonder how my age will impact my job search. Do people with just masters tend to do okay at my age if they go to a t10 school and do well?

      Delete
    9. Yes, K–PhD–JD is just a fancy variant on K–JD. It takes money, even if one gets a full scholarship for the undergraduate degree (which typically wouldn't cover living expenses).

      Another variant is K, dabble in this, dabble in that, take a few years off to travel in Europe, JD. Once again, that bears the hallmark of class.

      To Artsy Lady, I'm the one above who can't get so much as an interview despite top grades at a top-ranking law school. Unless you have connections within the legal profession (I don't), your age—which will be evident from your undergraduate transcript even if you omit your master's and all of your experience from your résumé—will likely sink you. And I wouldn't expect legal employers to smile upon a background in art history either.

      I know someone of my age who does have a PhD (in one of the natural sciences) and graduated at or near the top of the class but, like me, could not get a bit of attention for jobs. All that this person could find was a clerkship (admittedly a good one). What's to come after the clerkship: unemployment?

      Delete
    10. The AMA will establish the number of medical students that will be accepted to med schools as well as the number of residencies each year. The AMA is composed of practicing physicians and will protect the position of practicing physicians. Practical and theoretical education is very much interlinked in US medical education. Med students spend their last two years of their 4 year degree on different rotations before applying to residencies to specialize.

      The ABA, in contrast, does not establish a limit on the number of law students admitted every year. The only stopgap that is performed by the ABA is that the Section on Legal Education (which has been run mainly by law school professors and administrators)is tasked with the law school accreditation process. There is almost a total disconnect in the US between academia and legal practice. In the US, you can actually graduate from law school without ever speaking with a practicing attorney. Law professors, unlike their medschool counterparts, do not practice and therefore do not really have any skin in the game.

      Just for the sake of illustration, in 2011, some 17,364 students graduated from AMA accredited medical schools. See https://www.aamc.org/download/145438/data/table27-grad-0711.pdf

      In 2011, some 44,495 students graduated from ABA accredited law schools. See
      http://www.nalp.org/uploads/NatlSummChart_Classof2011.pdf

      And just think of how many times the average person will see a doctor more than a lawyer.

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    11. Interesting. I did my ma thesis on the use of imagery in conflict resolution. I decided not to do the PhD because the job market was so bad, but some grads had decided to go to law school with the aim of teaching at a law school rather than an undergrad campus. So I'd been thinking about that route for me. Maybe not though based on what I'm reading here. Still, I have applications out to YHS plus NYU (I think NYC art scene plus strongly international law focus might be a good fit for me). Will see what happens.

      Delete
    12. Sounds like a great plan Artsy. [eye-roll]

      Delete
    13. Oh, yes. And you might also wish to consider the joint JD in international art law and PhD in underwater basketweaving that is on offer at Bumblefuck U. With those degrees, you'll be a really special snowflake.

      Delete
  14. I get the feeling law school faculties are starting to accept the problem exists, and are now conserving their energy for the next fight, which is to do absolutely anything and everything they can to prevent a decrease in salary or an increase in teaching load.

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  15. I think many here think we will run short of naive students wanting to go to law school. I am not so sure about. There have been too many law students for at least 20 years and the lemmings still keep going off the. Cliff.

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  16. The AMA has protected their profession. I don't know what the ABA is doing.
    To date worse than nothing. If existing lawyers are finding themselves being displaced from their careers because of an oversupply of recent graduates at the entry level it seems they would demand change of the ABA leadership?

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  17. @8:11am, what's going to happen is the naive students will get less and less prepared (lower GPAs, worse undergrads, lower LSATS) and will be more and more drawn from poorer and poorer applicant pools who have not been brought up with a perspective that allows them to evaluate law school without seeing it as a mythical, formerly-unobtainable fantasy of extreme upward mobility.

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  18. I used to teach on-line at the University of Phoenix. *ducks thrown objects*

    About 10 of my criminal justice students told me that they wanted to go to law school. Only one had even competent writing skills. The rest grossly over-estimated their own academic ability.

    Of course since I knew I would be grading these same students, who would then be complaining about these grades, I never tried to talk them out of their plans. To do so, would have set up a future complaint by these students.

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  19. Time was—not too many decades ago—when law school was just for the rich élite and a handful of high-performing students of lesser class background. Other people just didn't even think about becoming lawyers, any more than they thought about becoming crown prince of Monaco.

    Now law school is for absolutely everyone. If you have a pulse, you'll get into a law school. So hordes of people who can't even spell law want to become lawyers.

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    Replies
    1. You've inspired me to found my own graduate program in princely studies.

      I mean, have you seen what crown princes earn? The median starting salary for those guys is outrageous.

      Delete
    2. Allow me to suggest starting it at the Indiana Institute of Technology. After all, Fort Wayne needs a program in princely studies.

      Delete
  20. there are at least two important differences between law and medicine. first, people don't pay directly for most of their health care, insurance or the government does. As a result they far less averse to high fees and products where the benefit is not proven than people buying legal services. Second, the supply of doctors is restricted, not by the number of medical schools as many people think, but by the number of positions in residency programs (about half of these positions are filled be foreign medical school grads since there are not enough u.s. grads, but all residents can practice in the u.s.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is *key*. With medicine, society has decided that we all pay a little bit each month, and we barely notice it. It's as if we feel like we're spending the insurance company's money when we see a doctor, which is not the case. But it feels that way, so we are never shy of going to doctors and letting them rack up huge bills that we rarely have to pay. A nice setup!

      For law, there is no third party insurance. If you use legal services, you pay directly. So we see a direct hit to our wallets each time we see an attorney, and se shy away from seeing them as a result.

      I bet that if we had to pay for medical care out of pocket, we'd rarely see doctors and they would be as hated as lawyers.

      Delete
  21. I believe Cooley Law School's "study" said a JD is a great investment and lawyer jobs are growing....

    ReplyDelete
  22. Would like to see a 'faculty salary' graph to compare with the others. Otherwise, a good start on graphics.

    ReplyDelete
  23. "K-JD" -- What does the K stand for?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. kindergarten

      k-jd are students who have no post-college work experience in that they went straight from kindergarten to LS

      Delete
    2. Yes. It's a reference to "K–12" (from kindergarten to twelfth grade; in other words, all schooling up to the end of secondary school).

      Delete
    3. Jeeze Louise you two, look up:

      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/troll

      Delete
  24. Really great post on the state of legal education:

    "Legal education is the 20th century steel industry – massively successful up until the very end, and then, in a moment, it wasn’t. Not successful, and not much of an industry. American steel producers (including producers in Pittsburgh) have rebounded, and they still make lots of great steel – but the big integrated producers don’t make the huge quantities of the structural steel that made them rich and powerful, and in all that they produce today, they employ only a tiny fraction of the US workforce that they once did. In Pittsburgh, where I live and which has become something of a poster-child for the chic revival of post-industrial America, the scars of the dislocation, disruption, and loss wrought by the crash of steel are still visible, and full of meaning and economic impact, 30 years on.

    The collapse of American steel may or may not have been avoidable, at least at the very end. But everyone at the top of the pyramid, on both management and labor sides, saw the end coming: the over-capacity, the flawed economic model, the changing demand. They saw it decades ahead of time. Everyone diagnosed the problems as the responsibility of other players. In macro and micro ways there were plenty of opportunities for management and labor collectively to take a balanced view of their futures and to avoid walking over the precipice together. Yet walk over the precipice together is what, in the end, happened. The parallel to legal education is imprecise. At the very least, this is not law schools’ 1981, the year that Steel's struggles really started to hit home in earnest.

    Is it?"

    http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2012/10/legal-education-and-the-end-of-the-beginning.html

    ReplyDelete
  25. DJM,

    I just have to commend you for how you presented that - your slides really hit home and make the situation clear. It would be hard to not understand clearly what is going on after seeing those slides.

    Even as a long-time reader of this blog, I don't think things quite hit home until looking at those slides. Startling.

    Thank-you for all the hard work you and Law Prof do on the subject. Excellent work.

    ReplyDelete
  26. "Jeeze Louise you two, look up:
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/troll"

    Just FYI -- it was an honest question, I just found this blog recently so am just now catching up on all the lingo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My apologies, then. I thought you had two fish on the line. :-)

      Delete
  27. Is Public Service Loan Forgiveness the best thing going since canned beer? Because if it is, I would guess that law grads with 6 figure SL debt would be getting public service jobs and signing up for it in hoardes.

    Someone posted on TTR that JD Painterguy could have been on a PSLF program since its inception in 2007 and would have been could have been should have been 5 years away from being SL debt free.

    Question 2: Is there a tax bill on the discharged loan amount after Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

    As Drac said to his Halloween pal in his Hungarian accent whilst using cockney slang: "Frrankly Frank, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is something to sink your teeth into, and is the greatest bleedin' thing to come down the pike since sliced bread, and is bloody great!

    ReplyDelete
  28. No taxes on PSLF, of course, there is no tax on IBR/ICR forgiveness to the extent that one is "insolvent" (debts immediately prior to discharge/forgiveness exceed FMV of assets).

    ReplyDelete
  29. FMV is Fair Market Value?

    Sorry, I was an English major that got a JD. The kiss of death :)

    ReplyDelete
  30. Yes, FMV = Fair Market Value.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I will admit I'm picking the brains of the lawyers around here for free advice.

    Would signing up for military service do the same as PSLF in that all debt is forgiven?

    And what is the cut off age for military service?

    And how long does one have to serve? And can one be called back to active duty after the initial term?

    I know someone that served for 8 years and started at age 31 as a nurse. The recruiters she was talking to used to call her five times a day before she finally signed up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you're too dumb to use google you're probably too dumb to be in the military.

      Delete
    2. It is okay to say that you don't knowOctober 29, 2012 at 1:18 PM

      Anyway, answers to 9:45's questions are
      - No.
      - Used to be 35 back when I was in, with waivers granted up to age 39 for particularly desired specialties. Back then, two common waiver grantees were MDs and JDs. I'm betting today it's just MDs.
      - Used to be a total of 8 years back when I was in. This could be 8 years full time, combinations of full time and reserve, or a full time stint (3, 4 years, etc) with the remainder on inactive status. You could be recalled to full duty upon need at any time during the full 8 years, but not thereafter (your full duty having been discharged). Maybe differs today, but I doubt it, except for temporary stop-loss provisions for those currently on active status that could extend them past 8 years. (Obviously, if the answer to your first question was not no, then the answer here would be "10 years minimum else PSLF would not apply").
      - Your nurse friend was dumb for getting out. 12 more years and she could have retired as a Colonel on a 50% pension at age 51, then jumped into civil service (at, e.g., a VA or military hospital) and double dipped.

      Delete
  32. 9:21 AM--the main problem with that plan is that there are very few public sevice jobs available, esp. for recent grads with little or no experience. Most state and local governments are broke, and have cut back their numbers of such positions severely, or left them unfilled. If a position is open, there will be lawyers with 10+ years of experience applying for them.

    As others have noted, public service jobs used to be the "consolation prize" for those who could not get higher-paying jobs with firms. Now they are considered very desirable, since they offer relative job security, opportunity for ten year IBR, and often decent benefits (some even offer pensions--remember those?)

    ReplyDelete
  33. @10:10AM

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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
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