Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or treat

For Halloween, Professor Brian Leiter revived an exchange I had in late August with an anonymous poster at the TaxProf Blog. I guess this is the day that scary things rise from the dead.

And this anonymous poster, "Anon," was scary. He or she cited the Bureau of Labor Statistics' low unemployment rate for attorneys, which is misleading for these reasons. At the same time, he/she ignored BLS's projections about how many lawyers our economy can support. Anon misstated basic facts about NALP employment reports, such as whether the category of "full-time, permanent jobs requiring bar admission" includes judicial clerkships (it does, but he/she thought it did not).

Anon also pushed the IBR magic bullet, suggesting that "[w]orst case scenario, [law school graduates] have 10% less income than they would have had without law school for 10 to 25 years." Anon is a business professor with a strong redistributive bent: He/she wants the taxpayer to subsidize law schools and their graduates, regardless of the macroeconomic consequences.

Perhaps most troubling, this ghoulish Anon insisted that "there is no crisis," "it's highly unlikely that anyone's life was 'ruined' by debt," and that any crisis talk is based on employment rates "in one single year for one class--2011--in a time of recession." Leiter endorses the last point, concluding that Anon won our debate, despite some of his "dubious" claims, because of the "weirdness of drawing dramatic conclusions from a limited data set, in the middle of a recession, and of failing to draw meaningful comparisons between JD outcomes and other professional outcomes for those who forego a JD."

These are the zombie propositions that just won't die. You can stake them in the heart time and time again with the facts, but they keep rising from the dead. Let's try again:

  • The economic downturn began in December 2007; that was five years ago. At least for lawyers, there is no end in sight. If we are in the "middle" of a recession after five years, does that mean employment will improve in another two years? Three? Five? At what point does a sustained period of economic hardship become more than "a limited data set"? I think five years are more than enough.
  • Employment outcomes for law graduates have declined every year since 2007, whatever measure you choose. Total employment, nine months after graduation, fell from 91.9% in 2007 to 85.6%, with declines registered every single year. The percentage employed in jobs requiring bar admission (including short-term, part-time, and/or ones funded by law schools) fell from 76.9% to 65.4%--again, with drops every single year over the full period. And the percentage of graduates not working nine months after graduation rose inexorably from 5.8% in 2007 to 7.7% in 2008; then 8.7% in 2009; 9.4% in 2010; and 12.1% in 2011. Limited data set or five-year trend line?
  • I don't know anyone who thinks that the Class of 2012 fared better than the Class of 2011; we'll have those data to add to the set in February. Today's 3Ls, the Class of 2013, look stricken. The 2Ls, Class of 2014, are reeling from a particularly brutal season of OCI.
  • The Executive Director of NALP, James Leipold, sees more law school employment statistics than anyone. Based on those data, Leipold emphatically rejects the notion that changes in the legal job market stem from the recession. "[O]ne thing we know for sure," he recently counseled placement directors, "is that [the employment 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." 
  • There are reasons why the JD job market has contracted and will continue that process: the reduction of BigLaw associate positions; creation of more contract and staff attorney jobs in private practice; outsourcing of all types of legal work; freezes in government hiring; and the ability of computers and nonlawyers to perform an increasing number of legal tasks at all levels of the practice hierarchy. These forces are dramatic, but they're real. They certainly don't stem from a single year.
  • Finally, let's examine the question whether JDs fare better than "those who forego a JD." Undoubtedly some of them do--including some who never practice law. But there are others who don't. The key questions for law schools are: What amount of financial hardship are we willing to tolerate among our graduates? And how much more of their potential income will we appropriate through tuition increases that continue to substantially outpace inflation and JD starting salaries? I see little discussion of those issues by Anon, Professor Leiter, or others who claim that law schools are the best of all possible gardens.  
  • Professor Leiter teaches in a very sheltered ivory tower, at a school that continues to produce strong employment outcomes for almost all of its graduates. That's terrific for the University of Chicago and its students. But graduates of other schools aren't doing nearly so well. Here's an updated version of the table I posted earlier this week; to the "every fifteenth" schools I selected for that table, I've added the school I teach at, as well as Drexel's Earle Mack School of Law (where Professor Leiter's co-blogger teaches). These are the percentages of the Class of 2011 who, nine months after graduation, worked in part-time jobs, held temporary positions, or were unemployed:
School
PT/Temp
Not Working
Total
UCLA
25.6 %
7.0 %
32.6 %
Fordham
17.3 %
5.7 %
23.0 %
Ohio State
19.5 %
5.2 %
24.7 %
Colorado
22.7 %
6.8 %
29.5 %
Temple
23.7 %
4.4 %
28.1 %
Tennessee
13.8 %
16.8 %
30.6 %
Hofstra
21.3 %
6.2 %
27.5 %
Drexel
21.4 %
19.1 %
40.5 %



















Sure, this is one year of data. But, at best, it's in the "middle" of a very long recession. At what point do we say "enough"? When do we stop raising tuition, every single year, at rates that exceed inflation and starting salaries? When do we think about the toll on our graduates? When do we grapple realistically with the forces reshaping the legal profession?

Trick or treat is over. It's time to face facts.

88 comments:

  1. Happy Halloween!!!

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    1. I'm going to dress up as a lawyer!!

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  2. They deserve a trick!
    You've made a big difference to the national dialogue in some two years, LawProf-please keep it up!

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    1. Sorry. Credit for this excellent post goes to DJM. Anyway, you are a good team.

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  3. You did a good job of laying out how employment situation for law students has gotten worse every year now for a while now, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. I think most people haven't really come to terms with that. I didn’t realize things are actually still getting worse.

    As far as solutions go, ABA is considering raising the bar passage requirements in the near future. This could have a real impact. I know everybody likes to bash the ABA, but they have made changes in recent years that actually have made an impact. Like the new requirements of how schools have to report job information now.

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    1. If "bar passage requirements" are raised, the issue with law schools (tuition amount, student load debt, etc.) will not go away.

      Because what's the difference between a JD with a bar number that cannot find work and a JD without a bar number that cannot find work?

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    2. If schools lose ABA accredidation because their bar passage rate is too low this would either (a) cause schools to close or (b)cause schools at the bottom only admit students that they believe enough of them will pass the bar at the rate the ABA requires. In other words those schools would have to maintain, if not raise, their admission standards. This would cause a drop in enrollment.

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    3. JD without bar passage blames him/herself more than the school.
      Scam on!

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    4. Totally wrong. The schools will just flunk out more weak students in the third year. This way they get almost three years of tuition money and the weak students are not able to sit for the bar exam and hurt the bar pass rate for the school.

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  4. At the experienced level, the legal job market has become dire. This applies to lawyers from the best schools with the best academic records and the best experience as to those who are less well credentialed.

    Generally, with a very small number of exceptions, the only survivors in BigLaw are those who make partner and stay partner. There is a very small MidLaw contingent that employs relatively few attorneys. That leaves small, eat-what-you kill shops that often (not always for those with good experience and records, but often) pay poorly for most attorneys in private practice, even from top law schools, several years after graduation.

    Chicago grads are surely very much affected by this structure. A whole lot of experienced Chicago grads in private practice must be in marginal jobs. The legal job market is so bad that you see a snumber of T6 grads working as real estate brokers.

    In house is good if you are a 35 year old, or a white male. Most other people have trouble surviving in house on a long-term basis. The jobs are not stable. There is a big clubby element to in house. Lawyers over a certain age, especially if they are not white male, will not be a "fit". Perfectly legal - nothing requiring you to like older people or want to work with them when you are a member of a younger generation and in a management position.

    That leaves government and non-profits. Non-profits tend to have awful pay except at the very top jobs, which are like in house- hard to get and hard to keep. The good government jobs are filled long-term by lawyers who are not moving.

    Sure the struture of the legal profession is fine - if you are in a cloud or bubble of denial or too young and stupid to know you are starting a descent off a cliff if you go to law school

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    1. Fail in many ways.
      1) age discrimination is in fact illegal in most circumstances. See, e.g., ADEA
      2) what's with the sex and race-baiting?
      3) non-profits like Harvard offer "awful pay"? Yeah, so does the Met.

      Please can we stick with LawProf's facts? They're bad enough!

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    2. Age-based discrimination in hiring usually is illegal. Unfortunately, like discrimination in general, it's difficult to prove case by case. I can prove a pattern of discrimination: somehow every goddamn application that I make ends up in the wastebasket despite my excellent credentials. But I can't always prove discrimination by a specific employer.

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    3. Older people tend to make more money than younger people. So when companies lay off older workers, they're making the cost structure more "efficient."

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  5. The experienced data is not one year. It is a trend that has been going on for a long time. It is part of a movement from a profession where lawyers could actually work for their whole careers because there was a better balance between supply and demand to a profession where the weakest - the old, the female and the minorities - simply do not survive.

    Try working in the legal profession as an African-American female. You get a job in BigLaw and work like a dog. You sacrifice everything. See if it gets you any type of legal job 15 years down the road.

    Are you double Harvard and a superstar, but not a white male? Where do you think you can work at age 45? Will any employer pay for your services? Think again, because the answer is often no.

    If you are a woman with a top record from a New York-based law school, what do you think your chances of working are after age 45, and for how long?

    These are all real life situations. I have seen mostly disappointments in this profession. There are limited numbers of successful long-term careers.

    Lawyers are just not needed in the vast numbers not only the law schools, but also the BigLaw firms, are producing them. Too many areas of the law have been slimmed down and made more efficient so that no one needs to pay for legal services that all of these lawyers were trained to perform in their early career jobs.

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    1. I've seen way more preference for minorities than discrimation against them. YMMV.

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  6. Very few minorities suvive in New York law firms.

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    1. Very few of anybody survives NY law firms...

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  7. Generally, the minorities that are around in good legal jobs are pretty young. The older minorities are gone- most of them are unemployed and unemployable in a cutthroat profession where the weakest die.

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  8. 1) very few *people* survive NY law firms. I didn't either.
    2) correct for admissions standards
    3) excessive focus on minority admissions is part of what is keeping the scam alive. Sorry. That's a fact and I say it with no hostility in my heart towards anyone, just in case you're wondering, but please reflect on it. African-Americans and Latinos are in fact *disproportionately* harmed by the scam. And I am anti-scam.

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  9. Wow--fully one third of UCLA grads are underemployed or unemployed. Very scary.

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  10. I differ with the last comment. The problem is an acute supply-demand i

    Last map update: Tue, Oct. 30, 2012 at 8:00:24 am EDT



    mbalance with few lawyers being paid the median salary BLS is citng in the second half of their careers. Women and minorities, at least older ones, face huge discrimination in the legal profession that younger lawyers do not face because there are many more jobs for younger lawyers.

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    1. "Women and minorities, at least older ones, face huge discrimination in the legal profession that younger lawyers do not face because there are many more jobs for younger lawyers."

      I think your map's out of date.

      Anyway, go back and read what you posted. It makes no sense to say older women and minority face discrimination because there are more jobs for younger lawyers.

      If there are in fact more jobs for younger lawyers, then it's not just old fem/minority lawyers getting the hit.

      Anyway, agree with the supply/demand imbalance argument. I'll post more on the minority issue in a minute.

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    2. Large law firms have large numbers of younger lawyers relative to older ones. Most of the job openings are for inexperienced lawyers. In house jobs are often capped at 10 to 15 years experience. It is hard to get hired after that. Large law firms in NY are mostly white male at the older ages. In my law school class there are almost no people working in house from two of the T6 law schools. The few people who were there mostly lost their jobs. These are not secure jobs. The firings are disproportionately of more experienced lawyers in all of these places. It is very hard to be paid the $160,000 going rate and to stay at that job even from a top school once one is more experienced.

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  11. On the minority/in-house meme you're pushing - I don't see it holding water in my experiences.

    I've knowledge of quite a few large corporate law depts and they're pretty diverse places. Certainly a higher diversity percentage (by design) than in the general population of lawyers (which does still have a URM issue).

    In addition, many large corporate law departments jumped on what I'll call the "Wal*Mart Bandwagon" and started requiring their lit cases and transactional work be staffed by minorities and women.

    WalMart lead the way with this in the early 2000's, and many corporate law depts, eager to show their support for diversity was more than words, were fast followers. What WalMart (and its copyists) did was run all their firms through a request-for-quotes process that included price and diversity numbers. Firms that didn't meet both criteria were axed from the preferred vendor lists, which meant they could only get work by exception.

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    1. Look at the age spectrum of the women and minorities and see how diverse it is. In house, once a younger person in their 30s takes over management, it will be hard for people who are significantly older (try to 10 to 12 years older) to continue to hold their jobs. That is the way life works. Problem is that these people will be replaced by younger people but there are not enough jobs for the replaced people to go to. Law firms that pay anything decent do not employ older minorities and they employ very limited numbers of older women. Law firms that pay are a game of survivor, with very few people surviving long term. What you have is some opportunities for younger people, but after a certain point, your double Ivy superstar lawyers, particularly women and minorities, are not going to be paid $160,000 in any private sector job. They are basically surplus - aged out of in house and aged out of BigLaw. It is less true for older white men. They are more welcome in law firms and in house.

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    2. "Look at the age spectrum of the women and minorities inhouse"

      I have.

      You're wrong on this.

      Best of luck (etc.), but you're just plain wrong.

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  12. I fear that Brian Leiter is the law school version of Douglas Feith: eventually virtually everyone will agree that his views were nonsense (if not evil) but the smug bastard is so dumb he will never realize it.

    Some people will never get the comeuppance they so richly deserve, which makes it harder (though not impossible) to laugh at them.

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  13. I know a 40ish University of Chicago grad with BigLaw experience who ghostwrites briefs for solos.

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    1. I'm not the person you know, but I have similar credentials (plus a federal appellate clerkship) and do the same damn thing for a living. At least I did until I got so depressed last month (suicidally depressed) I couldn't do it anymore. Now what? At least the loans are paid off. I just cross my fingers that I find some medication that works so that I can go back to ghostwriting briefs for idiots.

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  14. This comment is probably more appropriate for the previous post, but I will post here nonetheless.

    We need to start addressing the real problem here: there are not enough high paying, or reasonably paying, white collar jobs to go around. Wages in the private sector will continue to decline in light of the new global market place, the end. Whether you think this is a good thing or a bad thing is another matter, its happening and will continue to happen.

    Now, this country has a history of prosecuting minorities and protecting majorities and groups that have the characteristics of the majority. Educated people are a minority and non-educated people are a majority. This means politicians will curry favor with the latter group via select organizations, i.e. municipal unions, while letting everyone else out to dry, (including members of the majority not part of those organizations).

    I submit it to you that even if a law degree cost 50k and paid out with a 55k a year job, it would not be worth it. I will be called greedy for saying this because I am part of a minority group, i.e educated people and more particularly lawyers, and it is politically correct and politically/socially acceptable to condemn me.

    Whats worse, is it not only politically beneficial to condemn me, but it is also politically beneficial to condemn people who would be extatic to achieve the previously mentioned outcome by stealing money from the public coffers to enslave them; (as those being robbed are content that some poor bastard who tried to make something of himself/herself is destroyed even if it means getting robbed).

    Now since these things are true, there is only one logical course of conduct. See continuation below.

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  15. continued from 10:14

    If you can manage a 155-169 on the LSAT and a 3.0 or higher in a reasonable college major, then irrespective of how you compare to your similarly educated peers, you are easily in the top 15% of the population (minimum) in terms of an index that considers work ethic and intelligence. Yet the previous post demonstrates what odds you have to overcome, nay, I say what feats you have to perform to achieve an acceptable outcome. An acceptable outcome for an 7-8 year education that costs five figures, forget about six figures, is not failing to crack sox figures, even though most peoole graduating would be happy to make 65k a year (whic will never happen), and even though people with half or no such education or ability would riot in major cities to force their less fortunate bretheren to pay much higher than that (for no reason other than that they can vcajole politicians to do so).

    I anticipate criticism from those that are stealing from the public, as they lecture us to be less "greedy," etc., but I digress.

    We cant just criticize members of the academy or the status quo for not telling the truth, they wont. The public is too stupid to understand what is happening, and the current system is too beneficial for them to change. We need to offer an alternative to people that have decent but not elite capabilities. That alternative is as follows:

    Go to any city that has strong public sector unions. Do any blue collar job that you can get in those unions. I know what people are going to say: I tried to do public sector union job X but couldnt for reason Y. I say this: even if you fail or failed, will the failure or did that failure cost you your life? The answer is no. If, before you go to LS, and preferably before college, you try to get these jobs and fail, you lose very little. The spectrum of outcomes is as diverse as LS, which rangr from making 500k as a Nassau captain (highly unlikely, as unlikely as you becoming a BL partner), an NYC detective making 140k with pension opportunities (very unlikely, as unlikely as you becoming a BL associate), to becoming a Boston welder making 95k, or a Cali coast guard, or fill in the blank. These jobs are not nice jobs, most people do not get them even if they try, but going down this path is better than going to school. You loose little, and if you have the ability to go to college, then you should br able to compete well for these jobs against people that can barely finish HS. And again, if you fail at trying to get a large number of these jobs (after giving it a fair effort), then go to take the higher education poison of your

    If the thought of doing these jobs is so abhorent to you, or if an opportunity cost that spans 2 years a four figures seems like a bigger burden than one consisting of five to six figures and a span of 7-8 years, when the chances of success and the spectrum of opportunities is the same, ( if you compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges), then you have to accept the consequences.

    This blog should try to steer people towards reasonable alternatives, as counterintuitive to well established norms as that steering may be, especially since the people in charge are unlikely to change it anytime soon.





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    1. Millennial here.

      It amuses me to hear recommendations to consider blue collar work given the shortage and in white collar jobs like law.

      For the last year I've worked as a package sorter at UPS. My supervisor is out right now because he's having a reconstructive surgery on his knee (at least partially due to a decade plus at UPS). A coworker has a messed up wrist that will never quite heal so long as he's moving 2000 10-70 pound boxes every night. I myself remember a time when my lower back never contributed to sleepless nights.

      The physicality of these jobs shouldn't be underestimated. There's a reason people prefer the comfort of an office to winter loading a package car.

      Still I have health benefits, am working toward a pension and have a shot at a big payoff job you mention above (driving a package car for six figures).

      During the day I do some finance fund development work at public interest non profits. In the past year Ive gotten to see an area of the law I could get interested in. I'm basically constantly financially insecure and running from one job to the next.

      Blogs like this one have stopped me from going to law school for now, but its still something like a siren that calls to me. I just don't think guys like Lawprof and the above poster get how difficult it is juggling part time work whether its blue or white collar ( I do both). It too brings financial and health risks.

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    2. By the way, I'm barred from those big payoff jobs by seniority. And by the time I'm up for one, the union will probably have negotiated away their economic benefit for younger workers, in order to preserve the benefits of current drivers and pensioners. So sticking around at ups hoping to land six figures is pretty stupid given the lay of the land in Erica labor.

      Its the same story in these blue collar jobs as in Academia: struggle of the old against the young.

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    3. American*

      I'm typing this from a phone.

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    4. Anon @7:46, that does sound rough, but imagine trading having some sort of job and some paying work (even if it's unstable and physically difficult) to being >$100K in debt with at perhaps (at best) the same job situation.

      I don't think people realize how difficult it is to "transition" into high-paying jobs with strong job security without basically being determined to do so from pre-school these days.

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    5. Hilarious @7:53/7:54...November 1, 2012 at 9:41 PM

      Too funny. I had just read 7:53 and getting ready to google "Erica Labor", thinking it was some new term I didn't know... ...even had it highlighted to boot to Google when I say 7:54...

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  16. I skimmed through the old posts by the anon prof. In addition to everything pointed out above, he also makes some invalid comparisons when trying to justify the value of a law degree. He (and this is a common mistake) continually compares the financial situation of law grads with that of ALL undergrads. By definition, the crop of undergrads that goes to law school is above the average of all undergrads, and so would have had above average job prospects. Also, he seems to be comparing the financial situation of law grads to those people with just a B.A/B.S. at the time of graduation, and not those same people at three years into their careers -- exactly where they would be had they chosen not to go law school.

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    1. I'm not convinced that those that go to law school are necessarily above the average of all undergraduates. Where's the evidence of that?

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  17. i wonder how the job placement rates will be for the class 2016/2017. Since there are lot fewer people going to school, more of them shoul dbe able to find jobs, depending on the job growth rate and the law school admission rate.

    i could see the law schools saying "i told you that the market was going to improve and that the law school scam crowd was wrong."

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  18. I think it's time to start looking at a law degree like any other post-grad degree, like an MBA or MFin.

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    1. Law school, until now, has always been a default choice for semi-wealthy students from SLACs (small liberal arts colleges) who found that their undergraduate degree was totally useless for bringing in a steady paycheck. Dad could be tapped for the law school tuition until the last few years when the costs went out of sight.

      Why not make it an undergraduate degree; the lawyer wanna-bees could save themselves three years of schooling before hitting going to work for Starbucks?

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  19. This was a great post. DJM, while always persuasive, really improved on her snark.

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  20. I am ambivalent about the focus on raising bar passage standards. It would certainly lower the number of licensed attorneys competing for a limited number of attorney jobs. But it doesn't really address the root problems--the federal student loan gravy train, the insane increases in tuition (because they can), and the fudging/falsification of employment and salary information. The more stringet screening really should occur before law school--through student loan reform/underwriting--rather than letting so many people give up three of the best years of their lives (you're only young once) and become deeply indebted, only to be unable to pass the bar or do anything with their JD.

    Student loan reform = basic risk underwriting, e.g. don't make loans that are unlikely to be paid off. Consider the LSAT/GPA of the applicant and the job outcomes of the school for which they are applying for a loan. If this is done then at least half of all law schools would close before too long.

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    1. Those who support simply raising bar passage standards are most likely to be lawyers intent on protecting their livelihoods rather than reforming a pernicious system.

      They've clearly learned very little about being in solidarity with others.

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    2. I agree with BamBam completely.

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  21. DJM,
    I read the limited data argument as pertaining to using starting salaries as the primary metric rather than the five year period for starting salaries you discussed above. I thought at one point you mentioned you were compiling data in this regard but I could have been mistaken.

    The only data I've seen on this point is the UVA study I mentioned in prior comments; although, again that's only one study from one class at one law school.

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  22. "Have you checked salary distributions 5 or 10 or 20 or 30 years out? Or do you think you can evaluate a law degree that will last 50-55 years (at current life expectancy for 25 year olds) based on a single year of data for a single cohort?" --Brian Leiter's hero, Professor anon.

    Here we have an example of the "big jump" fallacy. We know that 44% of JDs will not get full-time legal jobs within nine months of graduating from law school due to a massively oversaturated market (and we also know that many of the lucky 56% will be on very shaky grounds in terms of income and job security).

    However, as anon brilliantly points out, we cannot evaluate how these lawyers will have done with their law degree 55 years out. Does DJM have any data set from the year 2067 to establish that a a 2012 JD was not a great investment?

    We can point out many frightening trends that tend to devalue a law degree (stagnant or contracting big firms, corporate clients questioning their legal fees and moving legal work in-house or even overseas, public sector austerity, offshored or digitized document review, online resources for pro se filers). However, we cannot exclude the possibility that sometime between 2012 and 2067, there might be a miracle of some sort that makes everyone regard a JD, even a stale and unused JD, as a mark of superiority, entitling the bearer to all sorts of rewards.

    Many years ago, a very fine writer, Michael Lewis, wrote about how Columbia Journalism School promulgated the myth of the big jump to naive students and the public. ("J Street Ate My Brain," New Republic, July, 1993) ("In the absence of optimistic placement statistics the authorities at Columbia offer a more elaborate explanation of the benefits of their journalism degree: it may not help you right away, but it will help you down the road. . . .The school seems to have settled on this story. Seven students and two professors cited the figure to me, unsolicited. Five years. Big jump. The belief in mysterious yet imminent career jumps has the advantage of being impossible to disprove without the benefit of a team of researchers..")

    http://www.uvm.edu/~tstreete/MediaCultureUVM/jschool_critique.html

    dybbuk

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    1. I guess I didn't read it that way either although I admit my personal curiosity may be shading my interpretation. I read the comment to mean using comparative data from previous classes as a data point to extrapolate expected future salaries even say at five and ten year points.

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    2. How the hell is it supposed to help down the road? If you haven't found a job well before the end of law school, you're pretty much sunk. The idea that people who work at a coffee shop for five years after graduation can deftly slip into a legal job is just absurd.

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    3. I don't think the comment applies to people in non legal jobs.

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    4. Even if it doesn't in this case, it has in others. He's said multiple times that all JD holders (lawyers and non-lawyers alike) benefit from the JD by earning $1m more than non-JDs over the course of their careers. I've asked him multiple times where he's getting this stat from, but he hasn't responded (unless I just missed it - he trolls all over taxprof's blog).

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    5. It may well be true that lawyers who are now near the end of their career made a lot more on average than non-JDs. But it's not at all clear that recent graduates will fare so well.

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  23. http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/will-law-school-students-have-jobs-after-they-graduate/2012/10/31/f9916726-0f30-11e2-bd1a-b868e65d57eb_print.html

    LawProf gets some major attention in a well done WashPost magazine article. This is a step forward because glossy magazines are one of the ways that social prestige is measured in the US (think USNWR). Step 3 in killing the scam- getting the message off of blogs to regular newspaper articles to glossy magazines; next stop is an unemployed lawyer who doesn't magically get a new job after leaving their old one on a TV show.

    The Good Wife, Suits, even Up All Night propagates an incorrect vision of the realities of lawyer life. Getting the real message into TV fiction is the next step to getting the message mainstreamed and ending the inflow of students.

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    1. This is a good point about the fiction of tv and its effect. There were posts on TLS about how Suits could be real. I only watched the first season of suits and every show involved a lawyer doing something blatantly unethical. That is in addition to the blatantly unethical premise of the guy who practices law not having gone to law school and not being admitted to practice. The whole show is around the unauthorized practice of law.

      The Good Wife I think is more of a drama about the personalities involved...

      There was some show about a girl who did dispute resolution.

      Delete
    2. I think The Good Wife does show the negative realities of life as a lawyer. I think it was back in season 2 that the second year associates were being culled and Cary lost his position and struggled to find another. And the firm has filed for bankruptcy, there have been lay offs, etc. They even showed nepotism in hiring. Seems pretty real for tv.

      Delete
  24. Most higher education (not just law school) tuition is in a bubble (the cost of the degree far exceeds the value of the degree) caused by government-enabled, insanely-easy credit. (The higher ed bubble is just another version of the housing bubble in that insanely easy credit makes it possible.)

    The bubble will pop at some point. No one knows when. Either the masses will realize that higher education tuition is wildly overpriced or the default rate will get so high that the credit will dry up.

    Because the higher ed bubble is directly enabled by the federal government, it can go on for a VERY long time. Our government can "print" as much money as it wants and there are many reasons the government wants everyone to stay in school forever.

    The facts about jobs, tuition and student loans are out there for everyone to see. Those who go ahead and borrow to fund higher ed are just throwing the dice.

    I predict damn few of them will be dissuaded by the facts. Hence, it's hard to feel sorry for them.

    Future generations who have no say in this mess are the ones who will eventually pay, as always, for our national stupidity today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The bubble in tuition wouldn't happen if the greed of school administrators hadn't raised tuition cost well above the need of inflation or actual cost.

      Delete
    2. Well beyond mere greed, well into calculated multi-decade deception, and currently being litigated whether or not it was "legal" fraud (as distinct from ethical fraud - which it certainly was).

      Delete
  25. DJM: "When do we stop raising tuition, every single year, at rates that exceed inflation and starting salaries?"

    Actually, looking at the schools listed in DJM's post, Temple, a public law school, did not raise its in-state tuition this year. Given inflation, Temple actually got cheaper.

    With comparable employment stats (fewer PT/temp, but more unemployed) DJM's school, Ohio State, a public law school in a neighboring state, went from $26,118 to $27,886 (again, in-state).

    Maybe, like Anon suggested, DJM is the problem!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is the first year Temple hasn't raised tuition since 1995. Temple's Board of Trustees decided not to raise tuition only after getting $140 million from Pennsylvania.

      Ohio State is increasing tuition 6.8%, which is well above inflation.

      Delete
  26. ScamProf can cite all the "facts" he wants -- but he is unable to account for one simple Fact: the demand for JD's is still high in spite of the litany "facts" -- what ScamProf wants is to impose some paternalistic answer to solve the slowdown in the labor market for lawyers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What do you mean? The demand for JDs is much lower than the number of people with that degree.
      Where do you show that the demand is high compared to supply?

      Delete
    2. Or do you mean the demand for JDs from uninformed students regarding cost/employment is high? That I would agree with.

      Delete
    3. 11:15, please answer 12:07's question.

      Not that I think you will. It's obvious why most law school apologists (including anon) stick to posting anonymously in the comments sections of blogs even though, in their minds, the law school scam is a fiction.

      Delete
  27. The demand for degrees in film studies is also high, but only among students, not employers, unless one comes out of a few select programs such as UCLA.

    There will always rubes who want to go to law school keeping the demand for a legal education high, but fewer employers wishing to hire these JDs on the other side.

    ReplyDelete
  28. How solo practices in NYC, DC, and other metro areas fare?

    ReplyDelete
  29. Don't pay any attention to Leitner. It only encourages him.

    ReplyDelete
  30. If you are proposing to be a lawyer, or heaven forbid you are actually a law professor you might want to make statements with come coherence and devoid of unintended irony.

    First with respect to "the demand for JD's is still high in spite of the litany 'facts'" this statement is in fact wrong - and moreover it fails to recognise what demand means. The reality is that law school applications have declined year on year and the the quality of applicants is declining leading many law schools to weaken their admission criteria.

    As for the suggestion that what Professor Campos and others "impose some paternalistic answer to solve the slowdown in the labor market for lawyers" please describe such a proposal. As far as I can tell Professor Campos has advanced the view that anyone going to law school needs to be aware of the labor market conditions for lawyers.

    Moreover, to the extent that anything was described as paternalistic, I think that would best be used to describe the student loan system, albeit a bad parent of the dangerously over indulgent kind.

    ReplyDelete
  31. It seems to me that DJM and Anon Prof are arguing passed each other. DJM is pointing out that increasingly bleak nature of the employment market for lawyers. The market could well be terrible, and might never recover to its lofty heights of 2007, but as I understand Anon Prof's point, the general employment market for college graduates is even more bleak. The question is whether, in the long-term, a law degree will improve a college graduate's earning prospects. Historically the answer has been yes. But DJM and others might be right that the high cost of law school along with the shifting nature of the legal services market has turned law school into an increasingly terrible investment. But this is a hypothesis that is based on the assumption that we are in a new normal, particularly with respect to BigLaw hiring, and that what Henderson and others say about legal services is true. If 2013 and 2014 graduates fare as poorly as their predecessors, then I think this will go a long way to supporting DJM's point of view.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Outside the legal profession (I use that last word generously), a law degree is a minus, not a plus. I don't believe that a JD for the purposes of getting a job outside law is much better than a BA in underwater basketweaving. It may even be worse.

      Delete
    2. 3:35, anon does make that point frequently - a law degree is actually a benefit to anyone because all JDs (attorneys and non-attorneys) make an average of $1 million dollars over their careers than do non-JDs. The only issue I have with this assertion is that anon never says where this stat is coming from.

      Seriously, does anyone know? And if this stat exists, why aren't law schools holding it up as proof that a law degree is versatile?

      Delete
    3. 5:29 - yes, I know where that stat comes from, and I sincerely hope that each time Anon pulls it from there, he wipes it off before he sticks it out onto the internet.

      Delete
    4. "...are arguing passed each other."

      Seriously?

      Delete
  32. Every movement needs an embodied, a-moral adversary.

    Thanks Brian Leiter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed...

      ...we're talking Lex Luther Leiter here...

      Delete
    2. He's even bald - well, mostly.

      And he lives in an impenetrable Fortress of Solipsism...

      Delete
    3. lol at the Lex Luther comparison, nailed it

      Delete
  33. Assclown actually referred to this entry as "a much-too-lenghty post.."

    Unlike his copied-and-pasted, see-I've-been-right-all-along rant?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Profs who live in glass blogs don't allow comments...

      Delete
  34. Notice the significant lack of trolling in this thread.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Here're the ONLY things you need to say to "business law prof" Anon and Buzz Leityear:

    (i) The BLS that you so love to quote says there will be about 22K lawyer jobs each new year for at least the next 10 years.

    (ii) Each new year, law schools in the US churn out 45K new lawyers.

    (iii) Fit these numbers into your fantasies.




    When Anon or Leiter say, "but but but, you can't extrapolate a whole 40+ year career from 9-month data, boo-boo-boo...", the only response should be:

    (i) The BLS that you so love to quote says there will be about 22K lawyer jobs each new year for at least the next 10 years.

    (ii) Each new year, law schools in the US churn out 45K new lawyers.

    (iii) Fit these numbers into your fantasies.




    When Anon and Leiter say, "but but but, 2011 is just a particularly bad year and you're being illogical to try to extrapolate from this one, mid-recession year", you say:

    (i) The BLS that you so love to quote says there will be about 22K lawyer jobs each new year, for at least the next 10 years.

    (ii) Each new year, law schools in the US churn out 45K new lawyers.

    (iii) Fit these numbers into your fantasies.


    Lather.
    . Rinse.
    . Repeat.




    ReplyDelete
  36. Has anyone mentioned the flat profits that biglaw is facing this year (again)? How many years of flat profits does it take for people to understand that biglaw is not going to come booming back. Biglaw's banker has a "robust" list of firms he is concerned about going under or merging out of desperation. He stresses repeatedly the OVERSUPPLY of lawyers and how slow biglaw has been to react to the oversupply. He also mentions that offices around the world are not necessarily helping biglaw in this time of international recession and the slowdown in China, only a few of the magic circle firms who have been in place for a long time are doing well.


    http://www.bloomberg.com/video/biglaw-banker-s-robust-list-of-firms-that-may-fail-glCIZT9EQkeYXhGTbboozg.html

    Watch the entire clip even though it is 14 minutes. He emphasizes the "profound difference from other recessions" and how deeply corporate work (outside of energy) has stalled.

    This was recorded before the hit that everyone will take financially from Sandy, the amount of which remains to be seen. There is work but it has a few weeks to still unwind to see what happens. I think it will slow greatly through the end of the year. (there could be pickup in real estate and municipal work but those don't really push biglaw for the most part.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My point above was meant to support the idea that things are worse in biglaw than originally forecast by bankers. This year is flat to 2011.

      So 2013 - the question is:
      will corporate demand come back?
      and: if it does, will it come back in the same way...
      note - not the same leverage from banks business as well as corporations bringing large parts of corporate transactional work in-house (something that GE Capital has done for decades)

      So how many years in a row of biglaw flat or single digit growth - do we need to have until we admit this model is broken/not recovering anytime soon?

      Delete
  37. BigLaw is fundamentally broken and is past due for reform. This should surprise no one when:

    1. They overpay grunt labor by a factor of 4.

    2. They require grunt labor to work 60+ hour work weeks with diminishing returns in a system that rewards inefficiency and egocentrism.

    3. They overbill clients by a factor of 2+.

    4. Because of the pyramid, king-of-the-hill nature of partnership structures, they are constantly laying off people who are competent, know their clients' business, and can undercut them on prices.

    5. They recklessly spend money on the frivolities of power-elite businesses.

    6. They're maintaining the 1980s model of hiring instead of adapting to how the labor market is now. It's a buyers market for new associates and yet they're still pretending it's a seller's market. It's a disconnect from reality.

    7. Because of the business model, the top partners have a lot more mobility and a lot more power over the asset sheets than 98% of people in corporate boardrooms. A few key departures can kill a law firm of 200.

    That's a lot of instability and practices that are out of touch with the market reality. I have a hunch the market will triumph in the long run, either by internal reform, creditors demanding more security, regulatory agencies acting (Bar Assoc. - lol), having clients force changes upon them, or just flat-out losing business to midlaw.

    We've already seen a lot of mergers and closures. Thacher Proffitt, Howrey, Dewey LeBouef, etc., plus there are rumors about other firms being in trouble right now. Wouldn't shock me to see at least two more go by next summer.

    ReplyDelete
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