Saturday, October 13, 2012

Five stages of grief

Updated with Online Link

James Leipold, the Executive Director of NALP, has a striking column in this month's print issue of the NALP Bulletin. For an online version, click here. Leipold begins by noting his surprise that "a number of law schools, through their dean or their office of career services, have called on NALP generally and on me specifically to develop a more positive message about the entry-level job market. One request went so far as to urge me to describe the entry-level legal employment market as good."

Shocking but, sadly, not surprising. Law schools have had to disclose their sobering job outcomes, but they want to reassure applicants that the market is "fundamentally strong" and will "turn around shortly." Fortunately, Leipold points out that he can't say things that are false.

After summarizing the dismal job statistics for recent graduating classes, Leipold turns to the future. Is all of this due to the recession? Can law schools assure applicants that the legal hiring market will return to the highs of 2006 and 2007?

Leipold, who has been reviewing law school job outcomes for years, gives an emphatic "no." "[O]ne thing we know for sure," he asserts, is that the job market for the Classes of 2016 and 2017 "will be different, and probably dramatically so, than it was for the Classes of 2006 and 2007."

Why? After pointing to steeply declining outcomes for the Classes of 2009 through 2011, Leipold writes: "We also know that the large law firm hiring model is different than it was before the recession, and is not likely ever going to look like it did in the last years before the economic collapse. That is because the business environment for large law firms has changed in significant ways that are likely to be permanent, or at least it has changed because of trends that are not likely to reverse themselves."

There you have it. Leipold is someone who hangs out with BigLaw partners and recruiters; BigLaw is the backbone of NALP. He also has every incentive to portray legal hiring as optimistically as possible; see above on pressure from law schools. If Leipold thinks BigLaw will not revive its ebullient hiring practices, then it almost certainly will not.

Leipold offers three further specifics, which have been noted on this blog and elsewhere, but are worth repeating:

  • The legal market for corporate services has shifted from a seller's market to a buyer's one, and "that shift is not likely to reverse itself even if the U.S. economy improves significantly."
  • Corporate clients have learned the lessons of disaggregation: They are "breaking up legal matters and sending the different pieces to the lowest cost provider," including offshore centers and domestic outsourcing companies. Again, economic recovery will not alter this conduct.
  • Corporate clients are demanding alternative and capped fees, rather than open-ended hourly billing, for an increased percentage of their work. These demands are increasing, despite signs of economic recovery.
All of these trends dramatically reduce demand for new associates at BigLaw firms. If a client will pay only $10,000 for a legal service, the firm wants a lawyer who knows how to get the job done quickly. If the client is sending all document review to outsourcing, the firm doesn't want dozens of highly paid associates sitting around with nothing to do.

Leipold doesn't mention this fact, but the firms themselves have learned the outsourcing lesson: Why hire full-time associates, who you have to keep busy or pink slip with notice, when you can hire outsourcing firms as needed? Firms can mark up the outsourcing charges, so why not leverage that work rather than the output of high-maintenance associates?

As one measure of the shift in BigLaw, Leipold observes that starting salaries of $160,000 accounted for 25% of the NALP-reported salaries in 2009--but just 14% of those salaries in 2011. If we look at the total pool of graduates (since almost all $160,000 salaries are reported), we can translate those figures to these:  About 4,878 members of the Class of 2009 secured salaries of $160,000; that's 11.1% of that year's graduates. In 2011, just 2,608 graduates obtained that entry-level salary--only 5.9% of the full class. Top BigLaw salaries are almost as rare as giant pandas.

But this isn't just about BigLaw. As entry-level opportunities close in BigLaw, those graduates move into MidLaw, government, and other markets. They displace the graduates who once secured those jobs; those graduates, in turn, move down to SmallLaw, smaller government, and solo work. And all of these middle and smaller markets have experienced their own contractions.

Leipold's message is crucial because it acknowledges that BigLaw is not going to revive entry-level positions. If those positions are not coming back, then the same pressures will appear in smaller markets. Indeed the hiring effects may be more dramatic downstream because they will reflect both displaced BigLaw associates and direct market forces.

After offering these insights, Leipold returns to the "words and actions of many of those involved in legal education and the legal profession generally." He clearly is troubled by law schools that want him to pronounce a strong, recovering job market when just the opposite is true. Faced with this dissonance, Leipold recalls "Kubler-Ross's five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance." He concludes that "there are quite a few people in law schools, law firms, and other legal services settings around the country who have yet to reach acceptance."

Indeed. Too many law schools are in denial--or, even worse, inviting deception. We need to get past denial and skip quickly over the rest of our grieving. There's not much point in getting angry at economic trends or trying to bargain with them. And depression won't help our graduates or the profession. It's time for acceptance, and then action. More on that soon.




104 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Uh oh, Censured!

      Mr. Infinity

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    2. "Uh oh, Censured! "

      I do not think that means what you think it means.

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    3. thank you thank you thank you.

      That assh*le should have been put down long ago.

      Delete
  2. "About 4,878 members of the Class of 2009 secured salaries of $160,000; that's 11.1% of that year's graduates. In 2011, just 2,608 graduates obtained that entry-level salary--only 5.9% of the full class. Top BigLaw salaries are almost as rare as giant pandas."

    The last part of the Big Lie that law schools hang their hat on, is that the ruin of law only began in 2008.

    Baloney.

    The schools have been pumping out excess, over-indebted graduates for *decades*.

    I mean look at it - their "best defense" is that in peak year 2009 a whopping 1 out of *9* of their grads received the kind of salaries the schools' report as being commonplace.

    *1 out of 9* - in their best year.

    And that is their *best* defense.

    A history of the schools' poor outcomes dating back to the mid-80's would be very helpful and slay one of the last law school lies.

    Does the NALP data go back that far? In detail?

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    1. I agree this has been going on since at least mid-80s.

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  3. That deans of law schools are pleading with Leipold to misrepresent the prospects of the legal profession shows that law school has become a business. And the students are not the customers; rather, they are the product being sold.

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  4. @12:25: The problem isn't that it's become a business but that it's become a business rife with unethical behavior. I am continuously amazed how quickly actors in the law school establishment discard their integrity when their personal enrichment is threatened.

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    1. You are assuming that they have integrity to discard.

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  5. One dissent:

    "Firms can mark up the outsourcing charges, so why not leverage that work rather than the output of high-maintenance associates?"

    The clients are on to the marking up and a lot are demanding that contract lawyer and outsourced document review are passed through at cost. One of the downsides of BigLaw associate churn is that so many end up in General Counsel departments, dealing with legal bills and wise to all the BigLaw billing tricks.

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  6. I see this first hand where I live. Firms that use to hire people who graduated without honors from local schools are now able to hire people who graduated summa cum laude.

    On a related note, ASU law plans to increase enrollment by 50% by lieing about job prospects.

    http://www.americanlawyer.com/PubArticleALD.jsp?id=1202574742581&slreturn=20120913154248

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  7. No one forces anyone to go to law school nor does law school entitle one to a job with a $160,000 salary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just like nobody forced people to give money to Bernie Madoff. How is he doing?

      Delete
    2. According to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, Bernard Lawrence "Bernie" Madoff received a penalty of 150 years imprisonment and forfeiture of $17.179 billion. He got that penalty after pleading guilty to 11 federal felonies.

      When people made out well with Bernard Madoff, they were sued. When people make out well with law school, they're not sued as a direct consequence of that, correct?

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    3. Well both law schools and mad off relied on false statistics and blatant lies to get what they want.

      They both benefitted from their lies.

      Delete
  8. "despite signs of economic recovery"

    What?? ahahah NO and NO.

    there is no recovery.

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    1. Perhaps no recovery in the demand for lawyers. However, there definitely has been an economic recovery.

      http://research.stlouisfed.org/fredgraph.png?g=bMd

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  9. But this is the year to apply. See:

    http://law.case.edu/DeansBlog.aspx/tabid/670/PostID/26/This-is-the-Year-to-Apply.aspx

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    1. The selling point: Someone who two years ago would have been stuck at a Vanderbilt may now find herself at a Michigan, thereby rising from Tier 3 to Tier 2. Or someone who would have been stuck at a Colorado may slip into a Minnesota, thereby rising from Tier 4 to Tier 3.

      But these people will pay full price for that extra bit of prestige. Even at a Michigan, to say nothing of a Case Western Reserve, that's a risky proposition.

      So maybe these people should stay at their Vanderbilt and their Colorado, if they can get fat discounts (a more accurate term than "scholarships"). Or maybe they should drop the idea of law school altogether.

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    2. Because Colorado is a tier 4 school...

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  10. I think we are about to see the rise of the idiots.

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  11. This is off topic, but over at taxprof Matt Leichter has a really sobering post setting forth the economic realities of IBR.

    Income-Based Student Loan Repayment: A Lifeline for Law School Grads, a Loser for Uncle Sam

    http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2012/10/income-based.html

    The graph is especially scary as it shows for the median state and private law students in the class of 2011 the income they would have to earn in excess of to be off IBR at the 10% and 15% levels based on the "weighted average public and private law school debt, $82,000 and $119,000, respectively"

    At the 10% income limit is is $130,000 for state and $186,000 respectively, at the 15% it is $92,200 and $130,000.

    Based on this it would seem that most new law graduates will be on IBR - and practically all of the private law school graduates. IBR is turning into a budgetary fiasco.



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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. My comment to this on taxprof

      A very useful if scary posting. I would add one detail - average undergraduate debt was in 2010 about $23,000 and apparently rising. Can you perhaps revise your graph to show data labels at $103,000 and $143,000.
      This would move I think the 15% income limit to about $100,000 and $150,000 and the 10% to about $145,000 and $215,000.

      These are astonishing numbers. First, given what the BLS reports for lawyer incomes for all lawyers, including those long qualified it would seem that the vast majority of the class of 2011 will be in IBR, even those who land the coveted BigLaw associate position. This seems to be ludicrous.

      Moreover, one has to question the political acceptability of having someone earning over $200,000 per annum - or even $100,000, having student loans paid by the state. A household income of $180,000 puts someone in the upper 5% of US earnings - $225,000 puts the household in pretty rarefied levels as only 1.5% of US households earn $250,000 per year. Assuming that most lawyers end up in married households this would be an astonishing income to be still on IBR.

      By the way I am not saying that the class of 2011 will make these sort of earnings - I expect them to do quite poorly, I am pointing out that IBR will be hard to defend politically when at least a small number using it are earning by overall US standards very high salaries - especially when much of the money will be flowing to law professors who are by US standards, the level of compensation typical in the legal profession, and average earnings in the communities where the law schools are situated also quite well paid.

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  13. Another change that I'd like to see: obligatory expulsion of poorly performing students, especially in first year. Washouts like the self-important idiot from Touro would be left with a manageable debt and would be forced to find something else to do with themselves. They're not going to become lawyers, so why allow them to go soldiering on with their low grades while the debt keeps mounting? In France, the worst students are kicked out en masse (although I know one who, presumably because of Daddy, got to repeat his first year despite completely blowing it).

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  14. Going to a non-elite law school has been a risky proposition for for a long time. I graduated from a t2 in 1993 and I knew several people who never found legal jobs.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. "Going to a non-elite law school has been a risky proposition for for a long time. I graduated from a t2 in 1993 and I knew several people who never found legal jobs. "

      The difference, of course, would be that now the equivalent students would be carrying vastly greater debt loads.

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  15. searched google news and nothing on this there.....maybe the law schools paid the media not to print it?

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    1. "this month's PRINT issue of the NALP Bulletin"

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  16. So Mr. Leopold is going to be fired if he does not lie about the employment statistics. Great system we have here where those being watched actually can manage the watchdog.

    I surely applaud Mr. Leopold's courage. Expect him to be replaced soon by someone who will lie and put a positive spin on the legal job market to encourage people to make the worst mistake of their lives - enrolling in a school that provides a largely worthless and hugely expensive degree.

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    1. ABA already warned 0Ls.

      http://newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com/Legal/News/2012/01_-_January/ABA_head_has_little_sympathy_for_jobless_lawyers/

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  17. The 9 month figures are the tip of the iceberg. Because of the structural changes in the job market, the large law firms running up or out systems can no longer place, at least on a long-term basis, a good percentage of those who are forced to leave. There are some practice areas where for the last 10 years or so the market is almost exclusively for persons 15 years or less out of law school. After that stage large firm alumni have a horrific unemployment rate in those practice areas and jobs simply evaporate for diligent workers who do everything right.

    The law schools need to publish employment and salary statistics farther out than 9 months. Of my colleagues, many were at big firms and are now looking for work or in practices that do not produce a sustainable livlihood.

    If the top few schools for placement - Harvard, Columbia, Penn, Stanford - are going to put a huge percentage of lawyers by mid-career in the temporary job or unemployed or eat what yoy kill market, or looking for work every few years, because the legal jobs systemically do not last, the NALP ought tell the public this is the case. There is no question this is the experience of many of my classmates from one of these schools.

    If the legal job market that is much worse than the job market in other professions, the public has a right to know. 0Ls also have a right to know if today's job at one of the top 50 firms has a 60% chance of landing the person in long-term unemployment or underemployment a few years down the road.

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  18. Does this mean that next year I won't have to hear NALP's bullshit about starting salaries with headlines such as, "good news for law school graduates, starting salaries rise in 2012."

    Let's get some truth in the data. Biglaw disappeared and if -- and it's a big if -- you get a job in law, it likely pays around $45,000.

    That's not a bad salary in America, but it's a horrible salary when you consider that it takes you 7 years of schooling and hundreds of thousands of dollars to get there. Or to use the parlance of business school, the ROI on law school is negative.

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    1. Actually, if it was not for the tuition, $45k would be low, but $55-75 would be alright. Paying first year associates $160k was always a stupid thing to do - hell paying them over $100 when paychecks first broke that barrier was stupid.

      Realistically to pay a first year associate to bill at $160,000 means that they need an hourly rate of around $300 - no first year is worth that much, they simply are not - rather an hourly rate of around $90-100 would be reasonable even in BigLaw. However, the value of a junior lawyer rises rapidly with even a little experience and pay could have rapidly tracked this value. Instead a situation arose where law firms lose money on every new hire. And that by the way is part of the issue - hire a newly qualified lawyer and they will cost you money for at least 6-18 months - it is a big risk and a big investment.

      Worse, the 5-10% of graduates scoring this sort of paycheck - $120-160k attracted a huge number of kids to go to law school who had no business doing so, all thinking that this was the normal rate of pay for a junior lawyer - or that this was not in historic terms a 5-10 year aberration on the part of the firms - a protracted moment of lunacy. It also led law schools to push up tuition so they could get a piece of what they saw as their graduates' good fortune (even if it was a minority in most schools.)

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    2. Excellent summation of the problem.

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  19. "A number of law schools, through their dean or their office of career services, have called on NALP generally and on me specifically to develop a more positive message about the entry-level job market."

    Fuck these guys. I hope all the law deans and career services employees find themselves doing hard manual labor for minimum wage in three years. Students, you should be outraged!!!!!

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  20. Why are law schools so indifferent to their students or outright evil? Though I don't approve of it, at least I understand why Wall Street doesn't give a damn about its customers.

    I used to think teaching was a noble calling. Now, I don't think it is. Law school faculty: you all are either selfish cowards or willing collaborators in the scam.

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    1. There was a great quote from Michael Lewis' 'The Big Short' a few posts back, to the effect that a business where it doesn't matter how the product performs will attract sleazy people.

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  21. The sins of the baby boomers are being visited upon their children.

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  22. Long time reader, first time poster.

    The issue isn't JDPG, its everyone talking about him. Nothing has annoyed me more than everyone talking about him as constantly as they have in the last week.

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    1. Agree too. Let him post and ignoreh him if he bothers you.

      Delete
  23. Mister Innnnnnnfiniiiiitayyyy!!!

    Mr Infinity

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  24. Also a long time reader, first time poster here.

    The reason why JDPG has been the subject of more talk lately is that he won't cease annoying people. They tried giving him the silence treatment, but he just won't stop.

    JD Painter, listen. I truly feel bad for you, no doubt you're in a shitty situation. I also hope things get better for you sooner than later. However, I do think you are delegitimizing a worthy movement.

    Please. Stop. Please.

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    1. The administrators have removed his rubbish, thank Heaven. Now everyone can kindly shut up about him.

      Delete
    2. I want to be able to review the comments of this blog and not have this feeling of oh no - not this jackass again. I just want to read legitimate comments regarding the blog, not someone's attempt to hijack it for their own selfish interests, which have absolutely nothing to do with the law scam movement. I hope Prof. Campos sticks to his guns and keeps this guy off. He is nothing by bad news and has ruined many a blog. Good riddance. I hope to never look at a picture of that a-hole again on this blog.

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  25. The problem with this is that a plumber charges $100 an hour around here. The New York City Police Department pays $90,000 a year after 5 years of work, with full pensions being earned.

    An experienced lawyer earning $50,000 in this area if he or she is one of the lucky 50% who of grads who got any time of long-term permanent legal jobs. What are the law schools selling?

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    1. I must say that I have learned that you can't depend on anyone. Sadly, I have no connections of my own, so I must learn to get by with what I can do for myself. I wonder now, as I reach the end of my law school studies, what exactly that will be.

      I have a brother who is a plumber (who I have blogged about a couple of times) and he does very well. I also have considered law enforcement, as it pays a lot here in NYC. I know it requires a good physique, but I am not overweight and think I could do it. Maybe it's not a bad back up plan...

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    2. If you can get it, law enforcement may be the best. If you mean the police force, your law degree will be useless, but at least you will have a secure well paying job.

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    3. Also, if you fail at getting one of those jobs, your life is not ruined. At worst you risk losing a few weeks studying for a test. If you fail at law however...

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  26. Why would anyone be surprised that schools want to lie and deceive students about employment stats? They have been doing it for years. Now they can't lie as freely they are panicking.

    It reminds me of a bug on its back wriggling desperately to right itself.

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  27. Are any of these relevant ions of potential use to Team Anziska's/Strauss. If the school tried to fudge the impression of the legal job market with NALP ths year, how do we know that they did not in 2008 or 2009 or 2010?

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  28. This is an extremely well written post. PC: can you link to the NALP article?

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    1. " this month's print issue of the NALP Bulletin"

      I suppose he could scan it in and present an image of it here, but then, that would constitute copyright infringement.

      Delete
    2. Unfortunately, the online version requires a NALP membership and those are available only to institutions. But you could try stopping by your law school's Career Services Office and asking to see the October 2012 print issue. The NALP Bulletin is addressed to Career Services personnel, so it's not usually put out in the student/alumni area. But a CSO staff member should be willing to share it. Leipold often publishes his columns in other contexts; I'll let you know if I see similar statements in other places.

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    3. I'm sure a little bird will eventually post the article on the net for all to see.

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  29. Leopold deserved credit for writing this. He is more in touch with employment than schools. I like the stages of grief analogy. Schools are clearly still I'm denial.

    this denial is obvious from comments of administrators and from the schools raising tuition in the face of dropping demand.

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    1. I wonder if the schools are in denial, or if the schools are just trying to get every last drop of milk out of the system while they still can.

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    2. Both. It's easy for the elites to ignore the suffering of those beneath them, and also easy to squeeze every drop of blood whenever opportunity presents itself.

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  30. I fault the Obama administration for not doing something about this horrid state of affairs.

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    1. It is Dubya Barrys faultOctober 14, 2012 at 4:29 PM

      .

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    2. Right - this is the biggest problem in the world. It isn't like he has a whole economy and international implosions and figuring out Syria.

      We should be solving this problem ourselves, as lawyers, and not increase the number of issues that the President has to deal with.

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  31. Well there is always the possibility of oil work for those that went to law school and have large student loan debts but were unable to find work as a lawyer.

    http://news.yahoo.com/lonely-hard-oil-rigs-salaries-soaring-210944273--finance.html

    I don't know if the JD would cause them to ignore your resume or not, but it might be worth a look.

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    1. Any degree at all would probably sink one's chances of getting that sort of work.

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    2. Only a fool would hire somebody for those jobs who didn't have several years of really hard, dirty blue-collar work on their application.

      Delete
  32. Once thing is becoming increasinglly clear to me: we cannot look to the law schools to fix the problem. They are the problem.

    Ultimately, the solution to this problems is going to have to come from outside of the law schools. One likely source will be the government, which offers the student loans which finance law school. If they turn off the spigot, the problem ends.

    Another possible actor would be the bar associations and Supreme Courts which determine bar membership. They could simply limit the number of people who can become lawyers. For example, they might determine that Colorado only needs 150 new lawyers in the next year. Those 150 slots are filled by the bar examination scores, and the people not admitted can try again next year.

    Or they could simply eliminate law school as a requirement for admission. The whole notion of law schools is relatively recent. For centuries, people could become lawyers without a law school education or without any formal education at all -- Abraham Lincoln being a fairly prominent example.

    Perhaps allowing law schools to act as gatekeepers was not such a bad idea when it was affordable. When I went to law school, tuition was like $3,000 per year, and books another $500. It did not break the bank, and what I really lost were three wasted years where I learned little of value. (I discovered the waste of time in law school taking the bar review course.)

    Finally as word gets out, sensible students will avoid law school, just as they avoid other scam degrees. Of course, there always will be the speshul snowflakes who are willing to jump off the cliff like other lemmings.

    High Plains Lawyer

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    1. To this day in many states it is possible to become a lawyer without attending law school. That isn't a realistic option, however, for very many people.

      I don't expect the bar associations to address the issue seriously. That head of the ABA just recently said that people should have had the damn sense not to seek to join the legal profession. His attitude is not that of a reformer.

      In addition, there would be allegations of a conspiracy to limit Competition™. Never mind that numerous other professions don't admit every half-wit in the world.

      Delete
    2. "I don't expect the bar associations to address the issue seriously. That head of the ABA just recently said that people should have had the damn sense not to seek to join the legal profession. His attitude is not that of a reformer."

      To the extent that bar associations are controlled by the people who run law schools and large law firms, they have every incentive to pump out large numbers of highly-indebted new lawyers every year. It keeps salaries down, and that debt is profit for the law schools.

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  33. I agree with High Plains Lawyer. Why do we need law schools? That is, why does the bar need law schools?

    There should be a populist push to expand the "reading law" route to practice. Then, we should eliminate guaranteed full buy-now-pay-later federal student Grad PLUS loans. The only people who will be hurt are law school faculty and administrators. And who gives a damn about them anyway?

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  34. Every time I see the phrase "highs of 2006 and 2007," I'm reminded of how my 2005 4th tier (now "unranked") degree has NOT served me at all.

    Granted, it's partially my fault. I could have not gone and stayed home. But the concept that I graduated during some sort of "golden age" is completely lost on me, and I suspect on most of my colleagues.

    Plus, should we be surprised at the shift in hiring? In what universe was it ever economically sound to pay 25-year-old associates $160k? No surprise that clients are demanding cost-cutting measures. BigLaw killed the goose laying the golden eggs.

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    1. Well, realistically, graduates of what you call the fourth tier (my definition of the fourth tier is much broader, entailing every law school outside the top two dozen or so) were bound to have trouble finding work, even in the alleged golden age of the mid-aughts.

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  35. As great as it is that Jim Leipold is writing things like this, there would have been no reason for someone who wasn't (a) an employer of lawyers with a $700-per-annum NALP membership or (b) a law school career services employee to know about any of it if not for DJM's reblogging it here.

    This is what drives me so crazy about the whole "The information was out there, even if the school itself was disingenuous at every turn" defense. Aside from Law School Transparency, whose work one will never see cited in any of the glossy books, magazines and promotional materials for attending law schools generally, there is no one-stop shopping for employment outcome data specific enough not to mislead a prospective student. They are just supposed to puzzle it out, amidst a lot of deliberate disinformation from the ABA and the law schools themselves.

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    1. Even Law School Transparency is lamentably limited, since it depends on the law schools for its data.

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  36. Here is a link to Bulletin article by Jim LeipoldOctober 15, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    http://www.nalp.org/uploads/1012NALPBulletinExecDir.pdf

    I don't know if it was just not available earlier, but a couple of minutes scrounging on the intertoobs today found it.

    It is worth reading in its entirety. I like Leipold's sense of understatement.

    Above, Professor Merritt quoted one of his lines, "One request went so far as to urge me to describe the entry-level legal employment market as good.", but didn't quote Leipold's direct follow up, which I enjoyed:

    "Ah, if wishing would only make it so."
    (emphasis added by current commenter)

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    1. Thank you.

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    2. To Anziska/Strauss:

      Hope you're reading this - because you may want to subpoena these requests from the deans/career service officials. I would love to see which schools were on their knees.

      Delete
    3. Thanks! Scribd s*cks. I have having to login to download or print a document.

      Delete
  37. On reading the article it too is somewhat disingenuous:

    NALP has not shied away from celebrating the strength of the entry-level legal employment mar- ket when it has been strong. See for instance the collection of NALP press release headlines from 2007 forward collected in the sidebar below. When the news is good, NALP has been the first to shout it from the mountain tops, and when the market weakens, NALP research is among the first to document that.

    The problem is that the hiring market was not strong in 2007 - it was say stronger than it might have been a few months earlier, but realistically employment outcomes were not that good in 2006-7. A lot of law graduates were already experiencing sub-optimal outcomes from the 1990s.

    My own guess is that even by the standards of NALP what the deans were asking for was just a step too far.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In NALP's defense, this is the first time that the market was bad enough for law school placement statistics to get this kind of pushback.

      There were no schools in the mid-'90s, let alone T14 schools in the mid-'90s, hiring graduates for a year of minimum-wage legal aid work to goose their employment statistics. Part-time, JD-required work - if it even existed in any meaningful way then - was not a consideration either. In real dollars, law school was about half as expensive on average, so that somebody who found no traction in the legal marketplace might opt into another line of work with fewer complaints about debt.

      Delete
  38. There were plenty of sub-optimal outcomes in the 1990's. As 1993 T-2 graduate I saw many of them with my own eyes. However, back then, debt loads were lower and the non-legal job market was better so most of those who couldn’t find legal jobs were able to move on with their lives. Also, there was no internet to give these folks a voice. If Nando had graduated in the early 90's, no one would have heard of him. For 20 years at least, there were warning signs for anyone paying attention. But the law schools (with the ABA’s blessing) ignored them and went full speed ahead - more law schools, bigger classes, higher tuition etc ... And look where we are today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also graduated in 93 and completely agree with your assessment. I'm puzzled when I read things like the "highs of 2006 and 2007." This crisis has been in the works for a long time.

      Delete
    2. "If Nando had graduated in the early 90's, no one would have heard of him. "


      I'm sorry, who?










      ;-)

      Delete
    3. You know him, the self-proclaimed "Malcolm X" of the movement.

      Delete
  39. My first view of the problem was in 2004, and I am an experienced lawyer from a top school. The big consolidation of law firms at that time into BigLaw eliminated many paying jobs for lawyers even back then.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Here is a(nother) link to Bulletin article by Jim LeipoldOctober 15, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/110113683/NALP

    Professor Merritt or LawProf - in case you get a chance to update the body of the post with a link, it's now also directly available on Scribd without going through NALP's server.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here is a(nother) link to Bulletin article by Jim LeipoldOctober 15, 2012 at 4:57 PM

      Ha-ha, incredible dumb luck timing I have - I hit "refresh" and thar she wuz.

      Please feel free to delete this and my comment directly above.

      Delete
  41. Thanks for the online link--I don't think it was available when I posted on Saturday. I've updated the post so that readers can easily find the link.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here is a(nother) (yada-yada)October 15, 2012 at 5:06 PM

      Yes - I ran the exact search Sunday afternoon (for null result) as I ran this morning (and found the NALP.org link with PDF), so I am pretty sure you're correct.

      I think NALP got around to uploading it last night or this morning (I have no knowledge of their usual practices).

      Then Erin over at Business Insider (author of article someone else linked above) tucked it into Scribd this afternoon to make it accessible for her story.

      Delete
  42. It is nice post but i could not understand the meaning of this paragraph please explain the meaning, "The legal market for corporate services has shifted from a seller's market to a buyer's one, and "that shift is not likely to reverse itself even if the U.S. economy improves significantly."

    ReplyDelete
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