Thursday, November 29, 2012

Response to Larry Mitchell's New York Times editorial

Updated below

My response to Larry Mitchell's New York Times editorial on the supposedly "sensationalist" claims of law school critics is here.

From comments:

Impressive that Mitchell hits every single scam point in a single op-ed, rather than going with the two to four that he considers to be the most persuasive. It is all there. He says:

1. overwrought bloggers exaggerate.
2. cyclical economy.
3. who knows what the world will be like in 40 years?
4. law school trains leaders!
5. opens doors to exciting and well-paid non-law careers.
6. everything else sucks too.
7. starting salaries are 61K!
8. average lawyer makes 130K!
9. legal sector is growing!
10. Long-term lifelong investment (aka good debt).
11. baby-boomer die-off.

I want to comment on the rarely discussed #4, because it helps explain why #5 is false. #4, incidentally, was beautifully expressed by Prof. Peter Bayer of UNLV Law, who said: "We are not producing plumbers and bookkeepers, we are producing the leaders of our Society whose primary ability is the strength of their intellects. Law teachers hone the mind in a variety of ways through a variety of methods."

http://www.constitutionaldaily.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1104:response-to-the-paper-waste&catid=44:news&Itemid=65

JDs, excluding maybe graduates of the 30 or 40 least selective schools, really are brighter and more disciplined than the average BA. So why is a law degree actively despised by nonlaw white collar employers?

I believe it is because nonlaw employers recognize that a JD signifies a bundle of elite expectations, rather than a bundle of skills. A fresh JD degree doesn't communicate the message: "I have the training to represent clients in a couple of practice areas"-- which a nonlaw employer might respect, even if he or she cannot utilize those skills. Rather, a newly minted JD communicates: "I can't do anything practical for you or anyone, but I spent three years playing obscure mind-games, and now I think I am a leader and oh-so-smart." To the nonlegal world, a JD stands for asshole.
See also.

Update:  Mitchell's article has generated some excellent critical commentary.  In addition to the Simple Justice piece linked above,  Alison Monahan, Matt Leichter, Elie Mystal, and Keith Lee take Mitchell to task in various enlightening ways (I'm sure there are other good responses as well.)

A law professor writes:



It’s useful to consider Mitchell’s op ed in light of Case’s enrollment over the past two years.  Based on LST stats and the 2012 numbers on Case’s website, Case’s 1L enrollment has gone from 236 to 192 to 154; meanwhile the median LSAT of 160 is flat despite the 35% cut over two years.  And another 10+% decline in applicants coming this year…  No wonder the op ed reeks of desperation.
I have a vague feeling I ought to disclose that two years ago I supported Mitchell's candidacy to become CU's new dean, in part because he gave what by law school administrator standards was a very blunt presentation to the faculty regarding the increasingly problematic financial structure of legal education.  And I can appreciate he's in a bad spot right now, as Case Western is exactly the kind of school that's extremely vulnerable to the shock waves hitting legal academia.  It's:

(1) Very expensive
(2) Has poor employment outcomes
(3) Is not in a locale that's attractive to trust fund slackers looking to wile away three more years of their youth
(4) Is located within a university that has a better academic reputation than the law school

The last item is particularly important.  As higher ed in general comes under more and more budgetary pressure, I doubt central administrators will be eager to subsidize professional schools that don't enhance their universities' prestige, especially when those schools are graduating increasingly disgruntled alumni into a hyper-saturated market.

 

135 comments:

  1. Doing God's work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree with 6:21. Paul, you're Atticus Finch in this debate -- the closest thing that exists in the academy to someone willing to fight an injustice.

      The other faculty may turn their noses up at you and give you the stink eye at conferences, but keep on it. You've thousands of fans, and you're preventing a nontrivial number of people from making horrible, life-altering mistakes.

      If a body, catch a body, comin' thro' the rye.

      Delete
  2. To the Editor:

    Re: "Law School Is Worth the Money" (Op-Ed by Lawrence Mitchell, Nov. 29)

    In citing the average salary of all lawyers as part of his argument that law school is a good investment, Lawrence Mitchell misses the point: nearly half of law school graduates will never secure jobs as lawyers. There are scarcely enough jobs in the legal profession to employ half of the graduates that law schools churn out. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 73,600 new lawyer jobs will be created between 2010-2020. Dean Mitchell argues that the retirement of aging lawyers will create additional opportunities for new graduates. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 154,900 such "replacement" workers will be needed in the legal profession between 2010-2020. Adding those figures, there will be 228,500 "new" jobs in the legal profession between 2010-2020. But how many graduates will be competing for those jobs? The graduating classes of 2010, 2011, and 2012 numbered 44,004, 44,258, and 44,495, respectively. If it is assumed that 44,000 people will graduate from law school each year from 2013-2019, there will be 440,757 graduates competing for those 228,500 jobs. In other words, just 51.8% of law school graduates from 2010-2020 will find jobs in the legal profession. That dismal percentage does not even account for the thousands of graduates of unaccredited law schools.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A couple of points. You state the numbers of graduates will likely stay constant from 2010-2012 levels. Enrollment has dropped 15% in the past two years and will likely decrease again this year. So expect to see the number of graduates to decrease to the 35,000-37,000 level. Second, the BLS might be wrong. Everyone here states as fact that there will be about 22,000 new jobs per year for law grads, including part-time and short-term positions. Last year the ABA reported 24,419 bar required, full-time, long-term positions plus another 2,000 or so bar required positions (not including school funded). That suggests that your 51.8% figure is significantly low.

      I'd also suggest that employment outcomes will depend a lot on which law school you attend. It would be interesting to see what the employment rate would be if you eliminated the 25 worst performing law schools. Then we can change the discussion from "is it a good idea to go to law school" to "is it a good idea to go to one of the top 175 law schools for employment".

      I think if you 1) account for decreasing national enrollments, 2) eliminate the outlier law schools, and 3) include the PAYE and IBR safety net in your risk-reward analysis, law school will look like a much better proposition.

      Delete
    2. "law school will look like a much better proposition."

      Why, then, does the ABA report approximately 1.5 million JD grads over the last 40 years, but the BLS can only find approximately 650,000 working lawyers?

      Delete
    3. I dunno, probably a mix of things. Some of those folks died, some retired, most probably moved into other fields or businesses. Perhaps the BLS is undercounting the number of working attorneys.

      Regardless, the employment rate for college grads is 96%, for law school grads I think it's somewhere around 98.5%. Just to use one example. My cousin hated practicing law and resented his parents for pressuring him to go into law. So he quit after a few years and opened his own successful business (assembling furniture for consumers). Sure he could have done that without a law degree, but he'll be the first to tell you his law degree has helped him 1) understand the legal aspects of his business and 2) get financing from banks. Honestly, I think he still would have preferred not going to law school. But his life wasn't a total mistake either because he went to law school. So he counts for one of those missing law grads.

      Delete
    4. Most lawyers drop out because they cannot get jobs as lawyers, and solo practice does not produce a viable living for most people in an oversaturated market.

      Older women and older minority lawyers who had good enough records to be hired by BigLaw when they were younger but are not in good legal jobs anymore are at the bottom of the totem pole in BigLaw hiring and BigLaw retention. They do not do better in house. They are the new minority groups that are undesirables in legal hiring and employment. There is no affirmative action here for women who raised kids or minorities who have a harder time than white males advancing in the profession.

      If you are an older woman or minority, good luck getting hired and even better luck getting the $160,000 wage that your law school advertises is (and actually is) the norm for 60% of its new grads. You are older and thus do not qualify for those high paying jobs, so you are worth a lot less.

      Delete
  3. Go get 'me tiger!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that was supposed to be " go get 'em tiger!"

      Delete
    2. Hell, I thought he was one of Sigfried and Roy, seeking the "final solution"!

      Delete
  4. I really, really wanted to see a reply from you on that absurd piece of idiocy that the Times declined to FactCheck before printing. Thank you for not disappointing; your evisceration was all I imagined and more.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Your 'potshots' hyperlink doesn't go to a webpage, seemingly...

    ReplyDelete
  6. I liked it, although it's very sad that we can't sue these schools for such blatantly misleading advertising by their Dean. Well, I mean, we can sue them, but the court will dismiss the case on the premise that only a moron would have believed Dean Mitchell.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Can't believe they're still shilling the same old tripe.
    Good job, LawProf!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great article, but two additional points might be made. First, a comparison of law school debt to a home mortgage is moronic. Very few people ever expect to pay off a mortgage, and that's fine, because they can sell the home for more than the mortgage (at least most of the time, and that market is indeed coming back). There is virtually no risk of being left with a debt that cannot be eliminated by selling the asset, and even in the worst of times, there is always bankruptcy. In contrast, the law degree you bought with your student loan has absolutely no transfer value, and it can't be discharged in bankruptcy. The comparison is absurd.

    Second, while using a median for first year salaries (a better representation of what most people will see--notwithstanding the fact that it's an entirely fictional median), he uses a mean for lawyer salaries, generally. While he notes that this includes low ones, he completely ignores those 7 figure salaries. In fact, the average salary number is seriously skewed, and the median is far lower--just like it is for first year salaries.

    Again, kudos for the piece. The original article simply had too many easy pickings!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Paul - great job. Please don't stop what you're doing - it's important work, and, it seems, a little too consequential for many of your peers.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Prof. Campos,

    I read that charlatan dean's op. ed. piece in the NYTimes. I rolled my eyes when he mentioned the tired and trite "40-50 year career" line. I have been practicing law for the past 20 years. I am giving myself 5-7 years before I get out. The age of the 40-50 year legal career is over. The practice of law has gotten harder since I started and more burdens are being placed. In fact, look for CLE requirements to be increased very soon from 24 to 32 credits every two years. With legalzoom, craigslist lawyers and virtual shingle hangers, this profession is in Thunderdome mode. There is no way a 2012 law grad will be practicing law in 2052 or 2062.

    A.E.S.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a great point. I see people on TLS who are planning on 45 year careers.

      Delete
    2. but, but, but Cravath increased the year end bonus this year!

      Delete
    3. ....so glad I bailed after 1L.

      Delete
  11. Mitchell simply regurgitated the industry's propaganda. The article (especially the title) reeks of desperation. I bet Mitchell is worried his "reserve" law school has run out of people to scam.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. he just wants to juice another 2 or 3 years out of his dean position.

      Delete
  12. Replies
    1. "Campos 4 Prez"

      Of the ABA.

      Delete
  13. Hey Law Prof, you somewhat often cast (gentle) aspersions on TLS as being full of "lemmings" and law school apologists (though you do give them credit for 'coming a long way' in the last year or two). What are your thoughts on this thread:

    http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=199009&start=50

    It seems to me that your work and the work of other bloggers has made the 'scam' view of law school the near universal consensus, even on TLS. Does that feel like an accomplishment?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Be careful. I've spent a lot of time on TLS. There are plenty of posters there that don't begin to grasp how dire the employment situation truly is. It isn't until they strike out at OCI or get no offered that the light bulb goes off for a number of people.

      People are getting smarter about transparency. Still, they don't understand how impossible it can be to get a job. They also don't understand that even top grades from a school like Columbia, Duke or UVa wont protect you.

      There are plenty of TLS posters calculating to the dollar how they are going to repay debt with a biglaw salary even before they have taken a single class or received a single grade.

      Delete
    2. "I've spent a lot of time on TLS"

      I know that feel bro.

      Delete
  14. FYI: anecdotal evidence from law school numbers has the number of people registered who are applying to T14 schools at one third of where they were last year. Not despositive, but intriguing.

    I know the smart money is fleeing law, but have so many people wised up?

    Here is a thread about it from TLS:
    http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=198988&p=6120601#p6120601

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OLs should be fleeing. Law school does not put money on the table. It does not pay your bills, especially for the last third of your career. I am an example of that, as are many of my peers from Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Penn and other top law schools.

      Do not go to law school. Odds are you will be unemployed sooner or later and will not get a 40 year career.

      Delete
  15. ***Killing Emerging IBR Abuse by the Schools***

    More and more, the scam defenders are falling back upon their last defense - IBR.

    "Even if we're lying to *you* about your career prospects, we're *really only f*cking* the taxpayer thanks to IBR. You get your lottery ticket disguised as a diploma and we get to keep our six hour workweek and six figure salaries - now STFU!"

    I cannot express how much this disgusts me - even beyond the history of fraud and deceit the schools have engaged in for *decades*.

    Because it is illustrates their *utter* refusal to self-limit their evil.

    So here is a crowd-source project - use Google to find uses of IBR as a law school scam defense (there are many - I may post a list of links here tomorrow) and then pick a member from the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform:

    http://oversight.house.gov/committee-members/

    and let them know how the law schools are systematically gaming/abusing the availability of IBR to continue and engorge the obscene levels of tuition inflation.

    Scam-defending law professors are pretty blunt online about how IBR is really being used - that evidence will hang them.

    Such commentary is powerful stuff in this era of fiscal ruin.

    *No one* in the general public is going to support an easily gamed system for funneling taxpayer money to law professors making six figures while working six classroom hours - for 40 weeks per year.

    *No one*.

    If publicized (thank you, Internet - last hope of dying democracies) IBR as currently configured/promoted will become a political cancer for its supporters and will therefore - end.

    Issa (head of the Committee) is - for good or ill - a politically savvy player. He has brought down a Governor with less.

    So copy this (or you own) post to every relevant website you can think of.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ...I know GW's admissions office had stacks of handouts on the subject

      Delete
    2. You asked for IBR defenders, I give you Georgetown's Philip Schlag : http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2179625

      See also his exchange with Tamanaha on Balinization yesterday.

      Delete
    3. You know I love your idea, but just relate it to the for-profit school scandals. No one seems to really want to touch education funding and the lack of over site on lending practices. It would be political suicide and all these guys just want to sit in office and milk the system. I say we need term limits for any serious business to get done.

      Delete
  16. Meow Meow says: Do you remember in law school the difference between embezzlement and larceny? Don't look at the victim because they're out of whatever was taken. You look at the person who took it and if that person was in legal custody, then it's embezzlement and if the person was not, then it's larceny. I know it's all common law bullshit that today has been mostly codified as theft.
    The point is to look at the person who is speaking and ask what he or she has to gain. This site is written by a law school professor who is not trying to sell anything and neither are the commenters. If the profession of law were so wonderful to everyone, this site would not exist. Beware of those who say otherwise, especially if they have something to gain.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Impressive that Mitchell hits every single scam point in a single op-ed, rather than going with the two to four that he considers to be the most persuasive. It is all there. He says:

    1. overwrought bloggers exaggerate.
    2. cyclical economy.
    3. who knows what the world will be like in 40 years?
    4. law school trains leaders!
    5. opens doors to exciting and well-paid non-law careers.
    6. everything else sucks too.
    7. starting salaries are 61K!
    8. average lawyer makes 130K!
    9. legal sector is growing!
    10. Long-term lifelong investment (aka good debt).
    11. baby-boomer die-off.

    I want to comment on the rarely discussed #4, because it helps explain why #5 is false. #4, incidentally, was beautifully expressed by Prof. Peter Bayer of UNLV Law, who said: "We are not producing plumbers and bookkeepers, we are producing the leaders of our Society whose primary ability is the strength of their intellects. Law teachers hone the mind in a variety of ways through a variety of methods."

    http://www.constitutionaldaily.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1104:response-to-the-paper-waste&catid=44:news&Itemid=65

    JDs, excluding maybe graduates of the 30 or 40 least selective schools, really are brighter and more disciplined than the average BA. So why is a law degree actively despised by nonlaw white collar employers?

    I believe it is because nonlaw employers recognize that a JD signifies a bundle of elite expectations, rather than a bundle of skills. A fresh JD degree doesn't communicate the message: "I have the training to represent clients in a couple of practice areas"-- which a nonlaw employer might respect, even if he or she cannot utilize those skills. Rather, a newly minted JD communicates: "I can't do anything practical for you or anyone, but I spent three years playing obscure mind-games, and now I think I am a leader and oh-so-smart." To the nonlegal world, a JD stands for asshole.

    dybbuk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "so why is a law degree actively despised by nonlaw white collar employers?...because nonlaw employers recognize that a JD signifies a bundle of elite expectations, rather than a bundle of skills."

      Damn, that nails it. While some could argue that is an outcome of higher-ed in general, it completely shoots down the "versatile JD" argument.

      Delete
    2. Outside law—the only profession that requires a JD—, a fresh law degree signals that the bearer is pursuing Plan B, if not Plan V or Plan W. She doesn't want to be working in some other field; she won't have her heart in it. If a job in law comes up, she'll leave in a trice.

      That's why a JD is a minus, not a plus, when looking for other types of work.

      Delete
  18. I think a lot of people need to go back and read Larry Mitchell's article again - and consider that for most readers it represents received wisdom and a set of hortatory sentiments that almost all middle class americans subscribe to:

    1. It's a recession, and that hits everyone, "it’s bad in many industries," not just law but recessions end and when they do people get hired.

    2. But it is about finding that "first job." It all about getting your foot on the ladder - and then the Horatio Alger effect kicks in and you steadily ascend until you are a master of the world you survey. Ah good old perseverence....

    3. You're investing in your future damnit ... and you should. Because "leadership" and "creative problem solving" are great and somehow linked to going to law school.

    4. "Rich and rewarding lives" are what you should live - and you should get the skills to do that (and they are available at law school.)

    5. Not everyone can be "doctors or investment bankers." Yes (a little query though - does that mean that everyone who does not go on to get an MD or MBA should go to law school - might the phrase better be "They’re not all going to be doctors[, lawyers] or investment bankers, nor should they", because right now the article seems to suggest that if you don't go the B-School or Med-School laws for you!)

    6. Tuition has increased - but everything is getting more expensive so why not law school.

    7. Yes, debt isn't a good thing - but you know that you needed a mortgage to own your house - not all debt is bad - this is not like putting a weekend in Vegas on your credit card - its investing in your future - it borrowing to get something that pays you back.

    8. And we do want women and minorities to be lawyers, I mean lets not be misogynist and racists - and we want the young to have opportunities - in some quarters this is what is known as a "would you hit me now with the baby in my arms?" argument.

    Now many readers here, and at LST and indeed in law firms and law schools have enough knowledge to recognise this as tendentious twaddle - a pile of piffle and nonsense and selective use of statistics. But without that knowledge Mitchell's op-ed is quite persuasive. Here you have someone who society regards as a respected figure - a law school dean, a professor, writing an article that plays to every cliché that they have of the world and places the current state of legal eduction in the context. It is actually pretty convincing - especially when it has the imprimatur of being on the OpEd page of the New York Times - the Grey Lady would let someone write and article full of horseshit and devoid of fact checking - it's not Fox!

    One of the basics of persuasive argument is to play to the instinctive biases of the jury, the judge, the arbitrator - Mitchell this thoroughly in his article. He hit every sentiment that the targeted readers may have.

    There are two audiences for this article - (a) potential law students and their families and other influencers, (b) congress and public opinion. The latter is in many respects the most important to law schools. Congress is in the middle of a huge budgetary battle in which Republicans are looking for budget cuts. There is one area in which the Federal government could save money - and that is introducing some sort of underwriting standards into student loans - something that would slow tuition increases and discourage too many students from taking courses that lack a reasonable economic return (i.e., those likely to leave the student on IBR.) If anything scare the socks off colleges and grad school faculty and administrators it is the possibility of that type of reform.


    2.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, NYT has that reputation . . . or at least had that rep with me until they started treating their editorial page a garbage-chute for academic piffle (the latest editorial by Jiang Qing and Daniel Bell being a prime example in an unrelated area).

      Delete
    2. Idneed, it's nothing but a play on the emotions. It tells people what they want to hear.

      Prof. Campos, by contrast, tells them the truth. And that's what makes him a disgruntled, embittered so-and-so with ulterior motives.

      Delete
    3. And please note that there's no opportunity for anyone to comment on the dean's bs. [Many NYT opinion pieces, like Krugman's for example, allow comments.]

      Thus readers curious for an evaluation of this crap will have to look elsewhere.

      What are the Dean and the Times afraid of?

      Delete
  19. good work.

    i have been in ip law for about 17 years. in that time. i have been to one retirement party (in house ip counsel) and 4 funerals for ip lawyers. almost no one retires from their job.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes - and to the extent that anyone good "retires" they tend to move out to a boutique firm or a consultancy taking a lot of their work with them - in fact, we'd hire some of these people long before we would hire a newly minted JD because:

      a. They usually have some business from their old employer;
      b. We know what they can do from prior dealings - that they know IP law and the relevant technology;
      c. They usually will have more experience and training;
      d. They can market themselves in a world where their previous role makes them a known quantity.

      Despite the frequent postings on municipal jobs - being a lawyer is not like being a fireman or cop, plumber, carpenter, trash collector, chef, infantryman, etc. These are jobs for relatively young workers - by the time you are in your 40s or 50s the physical demands are noticeable, while for most people manual labor jobs or physical jobs are not that viable an option beyond 65. Well paid or not, being a lawyer is an indoor, white collar job - one at which it it practical to continue into your 70s - and provided you keep dementia at bay, most lawyers effectiveness rises with experience.

      So not only do lawyers not generally need to retire young, law is a filed where "The graying of baby-boom lawyers creates opportunities. As more senior lawyers retire, jobs will open..." is mostly piffle and nonsense - graying lawyers will for a considerable period reduce the number of openings for new law graduates, not increase them.

      Delete
  20. The timing of the article is just too cute. Right when the Congress is considering drastic budget cuts and massive tax increases.

    ReplyDelete
  21. My email to Mitchell (lawrence.mitchell@case.edu):

    Mr. Mitchell -- I disagree wholeheartedly with your op-ed piece in the NY Times.

    Law school is not a good investment for most students these days. And this is not a recent, ‘Great Recession’ phenomena, but has been true for quite some time. The problem is more acute now with the bad job market and choppy economy, and it is made even worse with the ridiculous tuition increases over the past decade or two. There are simply too many lawyers and too many law students, and law students are paying far, far too much in tuition.

    Although not the worst, your school is pretty bad. From your school’s website, I see that only 33 out of 201 in the class of 2011 got jobs with firms with 51+ lawyers. From an “investment” perspective, these are the only jobs that could possibly pay enough to support the cost of attendance. And, as you well know, some of these smaller firms (51+) often do not pay that much anyway and the jobs at the big firms rarely last very long. That means that somewhere on the order of just 15% of your students can justify the cost of attendance. There is simply no way that your school is a good investment. So how can you say the opposite in public, in a national newspaper no less?

    Rather than urge you to do better, like lower tuition or stop being a law school shill, I ask that you do one thing. You should look yourself in the mirror and acknowledge that you, personally, are intentionally harming many young students.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent, especially the last paragraph. Mitchell is contemptible.

      Delete
    2. I agree. One cannot look at those employment statistics and come to any other conclusion.

      Delete
  22. "Law teachers hone the mind"—what a load of self-congratulatory bullshit!

    According to the popular representation, law school is a transformative experience. In my third year (and at the top of the class), I'm still waiting for the epiphany. Really, a correspondence course in law would have sufficed. I could have mastered the material on my own, supported by only a bit of consultation with professors. I've managed to learn more complex and more difficult subjects unaided.

    There's also not a bit of evidence that law professors have any particular pedagogical skill that would even enable them to hone anyone's mind. Only by happenstance are some of them good teachers. Very few of them study pedagogy. Some are downright lousy at teaching.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just wait until you're a year out, as I am, and you realize the work you are doing is a whole lot like writing a friggin' term paper. Seriously. Highlight to the good facts, distinguish the bad, proper citations, use of supporting quotes to hang your hat on... I learned this in undergrad. Or, earlier.

      Delete
  23. As I mentioned yesterday during another discussion, Mitchell made another objectionable point: success will come to the ambitious, creative, and enterprising. That's just another way to blame people for their own inability to find jobs.

    Well, the many students who drink their way through law school, attend Cooleyesque institutions (all but the top two dozen or so), or collect undistinguished grades really couldn't expect anything better. It's easy, and correct, to put most of the blame on them. But these days even the most diligent and capable students and graduates cannot find work as lawyers. Rarely is the reason their lack of ambition or creativity. Imposing blame and shame on them is simply wrong.

    People who get degrees in the liberal arts expect to have to be creative about finding work. People who get degrees in law, however, almost all expect to become lawyers. Despite this Mitchell asshole's lies, there aren't enough jobs for lawyers, and positions for JDs in Leadership and Problem-Solving are even rarer.

    ReplyDelete
  24. If you made this stuff up, no one would believe you . . . From his bio:

    "Dean Mitchell is the author of The Speculation Economy: How Finance Triumphed Over Industry (2007) . . . and Corporate Irresponsibility: America’s Newest Export (2001)."


    Physician, heal thyself!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Yes, the rodent has published several books on corporate irresponsibility and financial greed, yet the hypocrite cannot see that the law schools are engaging in similar conduct. Very convenient.

    ReplyDelete
  26. This is just surreal. I agree with MacK that Mitchell's piece is going to appeal to its audience. But, as Campos demonstrated in his response, Mitchell's argument is incredibly weak, with each and every point easily and convincingly refuted. And so by writing it, Mitchell demonstrates that he is either a liar or very stupid. And yet this dishonest and/or stupid man is a law school dean, head of an institution that is supposed to cultivate, specifically, virtue and intelligence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But, as I noted above, because no comments are allowed to Mitchell's article, folks are going to have to search for a response. I question how many of them are going to locate Paul's reply, or the equally good http://thegirlsguidetolawschool.com/11/law-school-deans-you-are-the-problem/ also linked above.

      Delete
  27. Thanks to lawprof for an excellent response to Mitchell's oped. Either Mitchell is not aware of the reality of the statistics or he is intending to decieve OLs, and neither is dean-worthy.

    Specifically with respect to Mitchell's assertion that there will be massive retirement of senior lawyers which will create a need to hire full time lawyers for replacement, well, we've heard this song before in academia. In 1989, Bowen & Sosa published Prospects for Faculty in Arts and Sciences: A Study of Factors Affecting Demand and Supply. One of the main premises of this report was that in the 1990's, the massive retirement of liberal arts, humanities and science professors would create innumerable tenure track postions. This report gave confidence to hundreds of thousands of graduate students who flocked to PhD programs. Of these graduate students who actually found employment, the vast majority are nontenured adjuncts. The tenure track postions were convereted to non-tenure track as soon as the professors retired.

    Simarlar to full professors, most sucessful senior lawyers today became sucessful not from exemplary practice, but from gaming a system that no longer exists. When these senior lawyers retire, they will be replaced by inhouse legal and nonlegal positions, outsourcing or it will be determined that these services were not really needed.

    The legal industry is changing and these days, it seems like the best most secure jobs are with the government. Anecdotally, I've lately seen a lot of small firms actually close up shop and the partners take their chips off the table. Perhaps a few senior associates find other positions, but other attorneys are just having to scrap and many end up opening their own law practices. This means that there will be more law firms fighting for the remaining work with each law firm having to cover expenses. I have also known several firms recently to curtail or cancel their summer assocaiate programs. Perhaps Dean Mitchell could tell us how many 2Ls at Case Western received paid summer assoacite positions.

    ReplyDelete
  28. "I believe it is because nonlaw employers recognize that a JD signifies a bundle of elite expectations, rather than a bundle of skills. A fresh JD degree doesn't communicate the message: "I have the training to represent clients in a couple of practice areas"-- which a nonlaw employer might respect, even if he or she cannot utilize those skills. Rather, a newly minted JD communicates: "I can't do anything practical for you or anyone, but I spent three years playing obscure mind-games, and now I think I am a leader and oh-so-smart." To the nonlegal world, a JD stands for asshole."

    Sorry, LP, but this may be the best paragraph ever to appear in this blog.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Deans like Mitchell probably say to themselves, "Well, I'm an attorney making an argument on behalf of a client. Maybe the client does not have the best case, but part of my job is to present that case in the most flattering light possible."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dean Mitchell, pro se.

      Delete
    2. Remember, the job for these deans is to "sell" the law school product. They don't care about the facts, they don't care if you get a job, they are simply there to hype the product and drive profit numbers, period. In general, trying to get a salesperson to openly admit that he's selling a crappy product is an exercise in futility.

      Delete
    3. @8:38 AM

      great point. just like defense attorneys with their Plan B defense, the point is to win, regardless of who gets destroyed.

      Delete
  30. In support of the op-ed: http://lawprofblawg.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/law-school-is-like-totally-worth-it/

    ReplyDelete
  31. Please expound, dear professor...That pretentious, disconnected jerk really needs a thorough reaming.

    ReplyDelete
  32. "To the nonlegal world, a JD stands for asshole."

    In the legal world it does too. Difference is that we pride ourselves on being assholes. It's pathetic.

    ReplyDelete
  33. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. - M. Gandhi.

    Consider what has happened in the last two years! Paul this should be a post. You, and the truth- finding scam movement, have gone from a whisper, to a punch line, to a threat, to the mainstream.

    A law dean of a respected university is so desperate and threatened that he has published an article in the New York Times (the NYT!!! America's paper of record) where he has to justify the institution of law schools. And he does so badly!

    Law deans have lost the podium. We are legion.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Successful lawyers, please boycott law school giving. Starve the beast!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hitting my ass up for a donation will be a great way to get an earful of very colorful profanity.

      Delete
  35. Megan Marks, Indiana Tech Law School’s first student, agrees with Larry Mitchell.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With a last name like Marks-as in the plural for a "mark," the person to be conned- what would you expect ?

      Delete
  36. The fact that the conservative Economist is picking up on this is important. Just wish they'd gone more in-depth:
    http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21567373-american-universities-represent-declining-value-money-their-students-not-what-it

    ReplyDelete
  37. LawProf,

    Based on the recent law school class action rulings, do you believe this Op-Ed misconstrued statistics enough to effectively shield Case Western from similar class actions?

    ReplyDelete
  38. Dam, Campos you fucking killed it with that reply to that nitwit Mitchell. Pompous son of a bitch..

    ReplyDelete
  39. Have you seen the cost to attend Dean Mitchell's dream school.

    Tuition $44,500
    Tuition per credit hour $1,854 per credit hour
    Student Activities Fee $120
    Health Insurance (student coverage) $1,550
    Associated Costs Paid to Others
    Books and supplies (estimated, will vary) $1,600
    Living Expenses (estimated, will vary) $17,530

    Conservatively: This is just under 65,000 dollars, not including the other 3 months money you will need to survive, plus the bar exam, bar class and trying to survive for 9 months until you may find a law job.

    Obscene.!!!

    ReplyDelete
  40. From the "lawprofblawg" parody linked above at 8:44 (link reproduced below). (Although noting the comment at 8:44, that commenter may not have realized it was a parody).

    It's pretty funny, check it out. Best line for me was:
    (Speaker is LawSchool Dean)
    "Look, the job market is bad. I hear this all the time from recent alums as I order my Chai Tea Latte from them."


    http://lawprofblawg.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/law-school-is-like-totally-worth-it/

    ReplyDelete
  41. Well, Prof. Campos, this Mitchell jackass pulled the wool over your eyes a couple of years ago. Now you know better than to support his sleazy ass as dean of any law school anywhere.

    The proper course of action is to sunset Case Western. Of course, the overpaid dean is not going to do that. Instead, he'll place free advertisements in the US's most important newspaper to con people into signing up for a quarter of a million in debt to go to a toilet such as Case Western.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I forgot to respond to Mitchell's lament that "society that may well soon find itself bereft of its best and brightest lawyers".

    Society already is bereft of the best and brightest lawyers. The "profession" is a moneyed aristocracy with a lot fewer brilliant people than most people expect.

    Note too how Mitchell promotes Special Snowflake Syndrome: the reader contemplating law school is encouraged to count herself among the "best and brightest", but very few people belong to that category. If Mitchell is so concerned about the "best and brightest", why doesn't he draw a distinction between them and the rest? Maybe law school is a good move for that élite (although I disagree), but what about the sorts of undistinguished law students that populate Case Western? (Admit it: Case Western doesn't have more than one or two students who could count as "best and brightest" even by a generous interpretation.) Does it make sense for them to take on a quarter of a million in non-dischargeable debt?

    ReplyDelete
  43. "4. Law school trains leaders!"

    Get real. A leader is an Army or Marine Lieutenant or Captain who has taken his troops to Iraq or Afghanistan, put up with the Army's and Marines happy political BS, as well as the Taliban and Al Quada, and gotten his people home safely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you mean Army or Marine Sergeant, otherwise I agree.

      Delete
  44. i wonder how much Wharton's prestige attracts Michigan, UVA, Boalt applicants.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Case Western has an excellent medical school and also a great engineering school. The law school is definitely a weak point.

    I can't believe the same person who can analyze the bleak structure of law school financing is shilling to the world about how great of a deal law school remains.

    It makes me dislike him even more.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Does Larry Mitchell truly believe what he says or is he just being the proverbial used-car salesman, saying whatever it takes to close the deal?

    I suppose Mitchell could be truly out of touch and naive but the latter is much much much more likely.

    As the saying goes: ALWAYS BE CLOSING

    ReplyDelete
  47. Poor Larry - he drew the short straw at the law professor convention. Someone has to do it.

    ReplyDelete
  48. The fact that you admit your prior support makes all the difference to me. It's truly sad how low expectations have gotten, to have to so sincerely appreciate that level of candor.

    ReplyDelete
  49. rank 67 =/= best and brightest

    ReplyDelete
  50. As a Professor of Law I take great comfort in the fact that vastly more people read the New York Times than read this and other scam-blogs.

    Nevertheless, I am outraged by these irresponsible and ignorant comments. I bust my butt to prepare for class so I can train my students to think like lawyers. I gave up a lot to be a law professor; I could have made a fortune as a corporate lawyer but I wanted to give something back. That's just the kind of person I, and my colleagues, are. We're givers.

    Now scam-bloggers try to attact followers by telling horror stories about being a lawyer. Dean Mitchell is right. The nonsense has to stop before it hurts any more students. For God's sake, think about the damage you are doing to young people who will be deprived of the opportunity for a rewarding career. Worse yet, think of the damage you are doing to society that will, as Dean Mitchell warned, be deprived of the next generation of great lawyers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Troll Grade: D+

      Not a great effort as the post is way too transparent a troll. A good troll post is much more subtle than this.

      Delete
    2. "I bust my butt to prepare for class"

      No you don't.

      "so I can train my students to think like lawyers."

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.....

      "I gave up a lot to be a law professor"

      No you didn't.

      "I could have made a fortune as a corporate lawyer but I wanted to give something back."

      No you would not and bullshit.

      "We're givers."

      No you're not - your a taker and a leech.

      Delete
    3. As a 0L, I take great comfort in the fact that I am not affected by the LS scam even though I have the credentials to matriculate into a T14 LS and most likely get a partial scholarship. I read David Segal's New York Times articles on the various scholarship scams, fraudulent employment statistics, and various unethical practices that are outlined in the LS scamblogs. I also read enough to realize that the contraction of the financial industry and its froth during the bubble years is no longer there for the BigLaw firms to exploit.

      Nevertheless, I still see the shills coming out of the woodwork. Deans, professors and other administrative personnel keep selling the dubious notion of "think like a lawyer" to entice students to throw down nondischargeable student loan debt so that such shills can make a fortune while the gravy train is still there. That's just how the game is played. Make as much money as possible and then YBGIBG.

      LS scamblogs was once an underground movement, but now it has attracted credible industry insiders and the horror stories about being a lawyer are given much credence. Dean Mitchell is shill. The nonsense he spits out is a Hail Mary for tuition revenue as the brakes on the gravy train has started to bleed dry. For God's sake, think about the idiots and special snowflakes that are now probably the only ones applying to LS. The warnings were there and the damage the shills are doing to young people will deprive them of their youth and opportunity for a rewarding career. Worse yet, think of the law schools that have to close down and the local economies that depend on the students' funds. The damage these LS shills are doing to society will be felt for decades to come.

      Delete
    4. I agree with this analogy. The smart people are heeding advice and not going to law school.

      Delete
    5. Thank of all the danger you are doing by taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from students who can not repay it for the rest of their lives .

      Delete
    6. Unemployed NortheasternNovember 30, 2012 at 8:45 PM

      "As a Professor of Law I take great comfort in the fact that vastly more people read the New York Times than read this and other scam-blogs."

      As are we - it was David Segal's multiple installment, feature length, front-page series on the law school scam throughout 2011 that got Senator Grassley, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to successfully pressure the ABA to require more detailed employment stats from law schools. In fact, Senator Grassley's initial letter to Stephen Zack at the ABA referenced the Janury 8, 2011 NYT article "Law Students Lose the Grant Game as Schools Win" and the April 30, 2011 NYT article "Is Law School A Losing Game?" I distinctly recall a third NYT article from the summer of 2011 called "Law School Economics: Ka-Ching!" about the finances of New York Law School, and I believe there was a fourth article in 2011. So we are very glad that folk still read the paper of record.

      The good Senator also referenced the Chronicle of Higher Education story "American Bar Association Takes Heat From Advisory Board over Accreditation," and as a longtime reader of the Chronicle - the largest higher ed publication in the country - it has also turned against how law schools are comporting themselves these days.

      P.S. You can read the Senator's letter here: http://www.grassley.senate.gov/about/upload/2011-07-11-Grassley-to-ABA.pdf

      Delete
    7. 5:31: You identified yourself as a 0L. Does that mean you're still intending to go to law school yourself?

      Delete
    8. @4:34, don't listen to 4:45, it wasn't really that bad.

      I didn't read it so much as trolling (as 4:45 thought) as commentary/satire.

      Viewed as a satire, or really, a parody of profs/deans, it wasn't absent of at least some entertainment value.

      But to agree with 4:45 at least (in part) in spirit - you need to be more subtle for greater effect.

      Delete
    9. Pretty sure the poster was being sarcastic.

      Delete
  51. What still needs to come out publicly in these discussions is the ongoing horror stories of T14 law grads and the well paved path from BigLaw to solo practice as an expensive form of unemployment. These stories are common. They are my story and those of many of my peers.

    Some of the BigLaw firms have evil - yes, evil - employment policies. In the aggregate, BigLaw firms are perpetrating the scams by running hordes of unsuspecting associates (many more people than any reasonable employment policy would dictate)through their up or out policies and bleeding these lawyers dry before firing them.

    Some BigLaw firms fire without notice, but give 2 or 3 months of severance. Others give the notice and severance. In this market, that type of termination is a baked in recipe for job failure on the next job, if there is a next job, for most lawyers. They do not have enough time to look to get a job that is likely to last.

    There is no reason to have a process where almost no lawyers but the partners get to work in a large law firm after age 50. The process feeds hordes of lawyers into the system and sooner or later spits many of them out with no source of income.

    For me, this process started about a decade ago when I became counsel at a large firm. With my employment offer came a severance agreement and 8 page mandatory arbitration agreement that stripped me of every legal right the firm could possibly take away. They fired me and hordes of of other counsel - a consultant told them to because older non-partner lawyers were generally less productive than associates. This firm would stop giving enough work to individual lawyers, again and again and then fire the lawyers because their hours were not high enough - like 10% under a 2100 billable hour goal.

    Associates and other employees were subject to the same mandatory arbitration agreement but signed it after becoming employed. It was a fire and gag situation. This firm could buy silence in its cruel process of hiring significantly more than 100 lawyers a year and firing an equally large group in one fell swoop to make room for the next group, and they did exactly that with a little bit of severance.

    Almost no one has a real job there except the partners. Many many lawyers have left without jobs - if one was not smart enough to leave early for those who started as junior associates.

    There is no reason for such harsh employment policies, but they abound in BigLaw, and they lure unsuspecting 0Ls even with top records into a profession that has a vast oversupply of top talent and a very uncertain future with a limited supply of career positions for lawyers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Name the firm, please?December 1, 2012 at 7:24 AM

      Name the firm. No one's going to figure out who you are amongst the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds they have fired.

      Delete
  52. "so I can train my students to think like a lawyer "

    They always channel John Houseman as Professor Kingsfield in The Paper Chase don't they? Epic fail of imagination.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Lawprof: did you see the letter from a 2009 law grad posted on ATL? The letter writer really explains what it is like to live with law school loans at 6.8- 8.5 percent. He is making $100,000 and can't afford to buy a house or a new car because of his law school debt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the 4:34PM asshole/troll also posted the same comment in that ATL post

      Delete
  54. I say that Dean LarryBoy Mitchell WINS WINS WINS WINS WINSNovember 30, 2012 at 10:14 PM

    Dean Mitchell wins.

    Period. He wins.

    It doesn't matter what Ali, Matt, or Keith say on their blogs, nor does it matter what Ellie (Ooops, sorry, "Elie pronounce it like the first two syllables of "Elliott") says on ATL.com, nor does it matter what Campos publishes on Salon.com.

    LarryBoy has won this round in the wide, wide world of publicity seeking.

    He got published in the NYT. That means millions of boomer readers and their boomer-issue chidrens is gonna be believin holy truth in what the holy dean of that (TT) law skule wrote.

    So all the above deconstructions of LarryBoy's OpEd notwithstanding (all of which I have read, and all of which are frankly outstanding pieces of truth), LarryBoy wins because he's (a) got the huge monster f___ing pulpit (NYT) at his disposal and (b) that pulpit (NYT) did not deign to allow commenters to provide color to LarryBoy's white lies and outright lies, and (c) that pulpit (NYT) failed to exercise anything approximating editorial control while The Good Dean LarryBoy The Used Car Salesman spun his web of easily debunked lies.

    You lose, scambloggers.

    Not because you're wrong - you are clearly not. But because you don't have access to the right pulpits.

    The LarryBoys of the world have the big pulpit access. That means that, at least to respect to these sorts of full frontal attacks, you are always going to lose unless and until you get access (on demand, desirably) to that same pulpit.

    You can all publish fantastic rebuttals to LarryBoy's NYT pulpit piece (as you all have done), but it won't matter if you're only preaching to the choir.

    The closest anyone got to getting out of their own noise chamber choir was Paul with his Salon piece, but even that only generated a handful of comments and was quickly buried by the (to Salon) "more important" news of the day.

    Meanwhile, over at NTY.com, Dear LarryBoy's piece is still one of the "most emailed" articles online.

    Until you all get a better and bigger bully pulpit, you will still lose the propaganda contest.

    And that's a real shame, because to this correspondent it's crystal clear who is actually being informative vs. who is propagandizing. But then, I'm just another listener of the echo chamber.

    I'm not the one you need to reach.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dude, there were FOUR feature-length anti-law school articles in the New York Times in 2011. Where have you been?

      Delete
    2. Agree and disagree. Agree that Dean Mitchell wins this round. However, he and other law deans are clearly on the defensive to an unprecedented extent. If he were really winning, then applications wouldn't be down and the NYT wouldn't give any space to discussions about the declining value of law school.

      Delete
    3. I say that Dean LarryBoy Mitchell WINSDecember 1, 2012 at 7:34 AM

      "Dude, there were FOUR feature-length anti-law school articles in the New York Times in 2011. Where have you been?"

      I saw them. Do you have a point, though?

      That was 18 months ago. None of the boomer parents right now pushing their boomer-issue kids to go to LS have a clue that that Segal's work even exists.

      What would be nice is if the NYT would link to them in an "on the other hand, you might want to read..." fashion.

      But they didn't. I don't know if it's a coincidence or not, but if you back out of LarryBoy's advertisement into the larger opinion section, there is a notice there that the regular op-ed contributions editor is on a temporary leave...

      ...in any event, the Paper of Record really should at least exercise some editorial control rather than permitting blatant self-serving prevaricating advertisements like they did in this case.

      Delete
    4. Obviously the NYT is one of the biggest public pulpits around.

      But speaking out, even in smaller venues is better than the alternative: saying nothing.

      Delete
  55. Dear Paul, please consider also linking in your "Update" area Scott Greefield's coverage of Dean Mitchell's NYT Op-Ed, which Mr. Greenfield likens to "Law Porn In The New York Times". Despite the sensationalism of Scott's title, it's not inapt. (P.S. I am also 10:14 above who seeks the bigger audience.)

    http://blog.simplejustice.us/2012/11/30/law-porn-in-the-new-york-times.aspx

    ReplyDelete
  56. Okay, here's what I think is a very interesting viewpoint in the comments on the "simplejustice" blog post covering Mitchell's NYT Op-Ed.

    How many of us can "see ourselves" in the thoughts expressed by John Pew?


    "Joe Pew wrote:
    I think Dean Mitchell's comments are even more troubling in light of the first paragraph of the email regarding warnings that "didn't sink in". I think that happens to almost everyone. I know that when I was considering applying to law school I spoke with several lawyers who were brutally frank in their assessment of the realities of the profession. I think I fell into the "it won't happent to me" mindset. You hear about stress, and not making as much money as you'd like, or not finding a job at all, or hating the job you do find. You hear that you'll be saddled with ridiculous debt. But you don't believe it will happen to you. In some ways, I think law school self-selects for precisely that attitude. So you ignore the warnings and go to law school. Because those warnings came from bitter guys (ignoring, of course, that those bitter guys are your friends and family who you respected right up until they gave you advice you didn't want to believe). And because there are deans of law schools saying precisely what you want to hear - that the bitter guys really are just bitter. I'm not sure that wannabe lawyers will ever really listen to the pre-law school warnings, but the situation certainly isn't helped by Dean Mitchell glossing over the very real problems facing the majority of law school graduates."


    (from the law blawg at http://blog.simplejustice.us/2012/11/30/law-porn-in-the-new-york-times.aspx#comment-18289953)

    ReplyDelete
  57. Brian Leiter's own coverage of Mitchell's op/ed includes the remark that Mitchell makes "a number of quite fair points". The fair points are not identified.

    Elsewhere on his blog, BL suggested that commenter "anon" had bested DJM in a debate on taxprof's blog. "anon" has a strategy very similar to Mitchell, namely, to repeatedly cite statistics pertaining to "lawyers" rather than JD holders, and hope nobody notices. I'm not sure who exactly falls for this, but we know Brian Leiter does.

    Brian attempts to hedge with some mild criticism of Mitchell and an admission that, at least some, law schools are not worth the money. He'll probably be citing back to this post in future years to prove that he's been on the side of reform for years.

    But his priorities have been made clear. Brian does not spontaneously write about student employment and debt. He discusses the issue only in the context of an attack on Paul Campos or Brian Tamanaha or DJM and is otherwise silent. He may concede that lower ranked schools are not offering a great value, but this does not concern him nearly as much as broad based attacks on law school in general do.

    Who is doing more damage to the perception of law school as a worthwhile endeavor, Paul Campos or the TTTs who churn out unemployable graduates?

    ReplyDelete
  58. One thing that many of the young commenters who say that they did okay despite the scam do not capture is exactly how secure or unsecure their jobs are. People who are working in good jobs as lawyers assume they will continue to work. That is not necessarily the case. All kinds of things can and do happen. Up or out policies are very damaging to older lawyers, especially women and minorities.

    I think we need longer term data to say people did okay. It is fine to measure first year employment outcome the way the schools measure it. What about later employment outcomes?

    I would not be asking if I were not part of a growing pool of older women who cannot get legal jobs. All of us worked in BigLaw at one time. My degreea are from the top schools in the United States.

    My view is that the up or out policies in large law firms that simply refuse to employ older women who had children and could not run a partnership and and 4 to 6 person household at the same time and shun older minorities who could not produce a huge volume of business in record time are very damaging. They create a ghetto of older lawyers who are untouchables.

    In my parents' generation, Hilter made Jews like them wear stars to indentify. The law firms identify their untouchables- the older nonpartner lawyers- with resumes that are required to state year of graduation.

    I am unemployed from a T6 law school and excellent experience. I spend my days looking for work, and not even getting interviews. Up or out is so damaging. There is very little demand for my expertise (which my former BigLaw employer assigned me to) outside the large law firms. Trying to change practice areas doesn't work. No one will let me do that and give me a job to provide the necessary experience.

    All I can say is that I am so sorry I went to law school.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would also be useful to note that the "up and out" policy has been going on for YEARS, even if the brutality of the firings has increased of late. So it's not, "oh, it's just this bad economy. Things will change when it improves."

      However, the lousy economy exacerbates the problem: in a better economy the victims of up and out could usually find SOME legal employment. Now, that's not possible.

      Yes, an article the "longer view" would be welcome.

      Delete
    2. I am sorry to hear of your experiences. It definitely stinks that this country's business philosophy has little account for the welfare of its workers. But this is true throughout our economy. Corporations lay off thousands because they missed quarterly earnings by three cents, states have laid off tens of thousands of school teachers instead of modestly raising taxes on the wealthy, fast food chains refuse to offer workers health insurance rather than reduce their profit margins by the slightest of smidgens. That doesn't diminish the unfairness of what happened to you, but maybe it places it within the context of our nation's perverse business practices.

      Delete
    3. Requiring an indication of year of graduation does indeed serve a discriminatory purpose. Every law firm insists on a copy of my transcript for my first (non-legal) degree. I can't think of a single reason to ask for that other than determining my age. I've even thought about forging the transcript by moving all of the dates eighteen years forward. That might be the only way for me to get an interview.

      Delete
    4. The business context here is that for older lawyers, the Harvard, Yale or Columbia degree may be worth very little because of the up or out policies and small number of other high paying jobs outside BigLaw. I went to an alumni party recently at a BigLaw firm. Shock when I met a Harvard grad who was a solo and a Yale grad who was in an 8 person firm and likely barely cracks six figures. I knew both as respected long-time high paid counsel at the firm and both were white male. I think by taking older lawyers out of eligibility for the lions share of high paying private practice jobs in America, there is bad career path in law for many older lawyers even from the top law schools. It is worst in a big city with lots of high paid public employees setting the price structure, as in New York City.

      Delete
    5. I think there is a difference between people who went to law school late and those who went on time.

      Law firms actually have hired women who went to law school late as associates. It is hard to tell if failure to get an entry level job is discrimination or if you are in the position that your chance of getting a job is only 60%. Even if your chances were 90% based on your record, that makes for 10% who do not get jobs. Age may make it harder, but I would make the most of my prior work experience and not try to hide. It may help if anything.

      The problem of most people in the second part of their careers being shut out of probably two thirds of the highest paying private practice legal jobs in America is a horse of a different color. It affects everyone, but women and minorities the worst because they get the lowest share of law firm partnerships. In career terms, one generally has to be a partner to spend a career in a law firm.

      What I am suggesting is that the business model is scamming the best grads, because many will not be able to make a good living later on, and many more of these will be women and minoriites.

      I am also suggesting that the time has come to change the business model and for large law firms to become experience neutral in hiring and to cut back up or out policies to match the available jobs, with the goal of placement in jobs that are good and likely to last.

      No one is doing you a favor if the bait to go to a very expensive top law school ends you up making much less than a public school teacher in your geographic area in mid or late career.

      Delete
    6. Another pathetic loser heard from...life's tough, deal with it.

      Delete
    7. That makes about 93% of the women in my T6 law school class an ALL the minorities pathetic losers. So you are calling all of us pathetic losers? Maybe you support repeal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on the ground that women and minorities are pathetic losers.

      Delete
    8. That is only one of MANY reasons to support repeal.

      Delete
  59. Has the New York Times actually refused to print a link to these responses to their editorial? If so it is very irresponsible of them.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Great satire of the Mitchell op-ed on http://lawprofblawg.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/law-school-is-like-totally-worth-it/

    My favorite part:

    Look, the job market is bad. I hear this all the time from recent alums as I order my Chai Tea Latte from them. If you look at some basic math, it will help. See, I’m going to take two points in time. There is this 1998 figure that shows that 55 percent of law graduates started in firms. And in 2011, that number was 50 percent. See? Not so bad! Of course, the fact that the rest of that pie chart shifted from federal government jobs to Starbucks and the fact that the starting salary for those in law firms has declined does not need to be mentioned because law students are notoriously bad at math!

    And you shouldn’t even be thinking about first jobs! Law careers last 40 to 50 years, from graduation to your first stress-filled heart attack about billables or your firm merging with another and laying you off. The world turns, man, and you can’t just think about the first job which you don’t have yet! Moreover, we law schools teach creative problem solving, such as how to pay $125,000 in student loan debt when you only make $40,000. They will survive because we taught them well. Don’t forget to thank us in your next alumni donation!

    ReplyDelete
  61. Law schools like Case Western need to be shut down. The best thing to do with them in the short run is to offer discounted retraining and internships to those who have law degrees and cannot find legal jobs. Let the schools make arrangements to offer retraining - at a very low cost - after work for those who work full time at Starbucks or other retailers. Let them make arrangements with employers for internships in areas where a JD degree is useful. No way should they graduate any more people than get full-time permanent legal jobs in firms of 10 or more lawyer plus bona fide clerks. Any graduates for whom the law school has had to fund post-graduation work should be subtracted from next year's number of 1L slots.

    The truth is that the ABA is the villian here. They need to collect ongoing employment data ASAP - like yesterday. They need to shut down schools and reduce enrollment so lawyer supply and demand are matched, taking into account whatever number of the 800,000 or so law grads who are not working as lawyers are actually unemployed or in jobs that no one would attend law school to get and looking for work.

    The ABA needs to roll back up or out policies. Slow down hiring and expand the short windows that lawyers get to leave associate jobs so that the up or out system becomes a system of placement not displacement for most lawyers. If people only leave these firms for other jobs, the BigLaw openings will reflect actual need for law grads, and not short-term positions that lead to long-term unemployment as currently.

    The ABA needs to make sure that legal employers are hiring and retaining older women and older minorities in substantial numbers. The associate pool in each large law firm should reflect a mix of older and younger lawyers, including experienced lawyers. If the jobs are not forever, so be it. As long as the pool of lawyers the schools have trained are working as lawyers in reasonably good jobs, the system would work.

    The ABA should make law school much more selective - like medical or dental school - so that graduates of law schools can reasonably expect to have 40 year careers with incomes that justify the cost of attending.

    Finally the ABA needs to take action to reduce sharply the costs of attending law schools. Law schools that do not produce employment outcomes that justify the cost of attending should not be accredited.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The ABA can withhold accreditation from law schools, and that's it. They have no weight to throw around with legal employers, who are either (a) huge firms and are part of the ABA's ownership caste or (b) small firms who don't belong to ABA and don't care what it says or does.

      Delete
    2. Thanks .--- , good points all. I would add that they do have the power to revoke accreditation, although I'm sure they never will, given the dean of one of the worst US law schools is the chairman of that committee...

      Delete
    3. If the ongoing employment data were to show that women and minorities even from the top schools have very poor employment opportunities in the last half or third of their careers, and their law degrees are not worth the paper they are printed on, I think the ABA should take action to force law firms to have a diverse workforce of lawyers. No, it is not acceptable if every African-American in 9 of 10 large law firms is under the age of 35 and if a firm of 1000 lawyers has no associates that are more than 15 years out of law school. No, it is not acceptable if only 3% of the law firm's workforce and none of the associate workforce represents women or minorities in the last third of their careers (age 53 or older).

      I think collecting this data and having the ABA act on it - even if it has to be by adopting a policy statement and asking all of the top 250 law firms to sign a policy statement to the effect that they will have a diverse workforce. I think the current hiring policies are horrible- with experience caps on associate positions - that encourage 0Ls to go into a profession that will not afford even the graduates of the most selective schools legal jobs that pay enough to warrant getting the law degree from a top school and have any reasonable likelihood of lasting for the length a career.

      The current system has made older minorities and women an underclass because they are not marketable. It feeds on itself. An underclass can be given temp jobs or short term jobs, or not jobs, outright mistreated and then fired with little chance of working again. This happens because there is no market in the legal profession for most older women and minority lawyers. The big firms set the market.

      Delete
    4. The ABA is powerless to force diversity on law firms. Law firms can hire only white males if they so choose. If you don't like it, start your own firm with only women and minorities. We'll see how well you do.

      Delete
    5. You got it - it is hard to compete with established firms.

      The ABA should promote diversity in BigLaw firms. I don't think systemic exclusion of older women and minorities is good for the legal profession, unless of course you are a white male.

      Delete
  62. http://www.grassley.senate.gov/about/upload/2011-07-11-Grassley-to-ABA.pdf

    This 2011 letter from Sen.Grassley to the ABA (I say "letter" but it reads more like a set of `rogs) was mentioned upthread but it is really worth reading if you haven't seen it.

    Does anyone know if Grassley has any renewed energy in this area? Any Iowan's out there in the peanut gallery who could "as a constituent" put a renewed bug in his ear about it?

    ReplyDelete
  63. A critical point on the 40 or 50 year career- most lawyers even from the top schools will not get there.
    If you want to work for a law firm after age 45, you need your own book of business. I cannot emphasize that enough. The days of finders, minders and grinders in law firms are gone, when you are talking about post-age 45 jobs. Law firms need every mature lawyer to carry his or her weight in business brought in. Unlike a doctor or dentist who can sign up with an insurance company to get patients, you need to have referrals or an ongoing practice to get the work. Maybe if you represent individuals, you advertise, but that becomes very expensive and may or may not produce clients. Most lawyers are just not that great in bringing in and retaining enough business to support themselves. Sure, some are rainmakers, but if you are not rainmaker, do not count on working in the second part of your career,
    The other point is the difficulty of holding an in house job legal job when one is older. Most managers want younger people, not older ones, working as lawyers. Once your boss is more than 10 years younger than you, you are not likely to fit in – the boss will be more comfortable with younger lawyers. The employer can legitimately fire you because you are not a "fit."
    Just be aware that the chances of working as a lawyer over age 45 are not good in an oversaturated market.

    ReplyDelete
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