Thursday, January 24, 2013

A message from the Dean

Duke's dean has sent a state of the school update to the school's alumni (I don't know if current students got it.  Readers will recall that members of the Duke community are petitioning the dean and the school regarding various matters).

The dean highlights that Duke is only one of seven schools which have seen applications rise over last year to this point, while nearly half of ABA schools have seen declines of at least 30%.  (I suspect that the 20.4% drop in applicants as of mid-January year over year is very unevenly distributed, with top schools seeing small or no declines, middling schools seeing big ones, and the bottom 125 or so schools getting slaughtered).

Anyway, a concerned party sent me his/her reactions to the missive, which I'm reprinting with minor redactions below.  (I should emphasize that, although I can't speak for my correspondent in this regard, I don't think any of this should be taken as a criticism of Duke in particular, since as far as I know both Duke's finances and its institutional practices mirror those of other elite schools in all important respects):



A couple of thoughts:

1) He seems to be responding directly to the petition in the section about tuition. That's a good sign, at least.

2) About tuition:

"Our tuition does not cover the cost of a Duke Law education and the supporting services that students receive.  Even the full tuition covers only about two-thirds of the cost of an education at Duke Law."

Cite please? Seriously, how on earth is this possible? How much are they paying the professors that the actual cost PER STUDENT is $78,000 per year??? (assuming tuition at 52k). I wonder if Dean Levi realizes how bad this actually makes him look. Yes, alumni, please give our needy charitable organization money, because we need $78,000 per student per year to operate. I promise it's not just going to pay for the profs' McMansions and fancy cars.

[S]cholarship funding has doubled from $5 million to over $10 million in the last five years, and, as a result, the net average tuition at Duke Law, taking account of scholarship grants, has stayed fairly stable during that period at about $33,000 per year. 

Wow, just wow, on so many levels. First, the fact that there is such an extreme disparity between sticker price and actual average tuition shows the need for much greater transparency in terms of what people are actually paying. Duke really needs to disclose to current students that 33k is the net average tuition, and to prospective students where their "scholarship" puts them compared to everyone else.  I know lots of current students who were enticed to enroll with a 1/3 "scholarship" - 48k over 3 years - but apparently they actually pay more now than the average student. Incredible. Duke slyly uses its scholarships to make everyone feel like a special snowflake to get them to enroll. They manipulate them into thinking they're getting a really good deal when in actuality they're paying more than other students. Second, let's not forget that more than 20 percent of the class is still paying full sticker price. I would be really, really pissed if I were one of those people and found out that so many people are paying so much less. Third, since the number given is an average and not a median, we have no idea whether there are a few people in the class with full scholarships that pull down the average cost, or lots of people with modest scholarships. LSAC says the median grant for Duke is 16K I believe. 
[Ed. comment: Looking at LSAC's numbers I suspect Dean Levi is speaking loosely when he says net average tuition has stayed around $33K per year. Those numbers indicate that less than 10% of the class get even half tuition scholarships, and that almost no one gets a full scholarship.  This makes it very unlikely that mean tuition paid is really $33K, given that the median grant is $16K and 22% of the class pays full price.  I imagine the $33K number is derived by simply subtracting the median grant amount from last year's tuition of $49K and change].
Anyways, it would be interesting to figure out the extent to which the bottom students are subsidizing the top ones, who need it the least. Fourth, why are Duke Law's expenses rising so rapidly that the scholarship fund needs to double in 5 years just to keep average tuition from rising? And what is the justification for milking alumni to make up the difference, rather than, say, budgeting more efficiently? Fifth, average tuition may be holding steady, but the debt taken on by Duke students is still rising exponentially, especially when interest payments are considered.

"Our governing faculty has demonstrated its full support of our students by creating a faculty scholarship from personal donations.  As of this writing, the governing faculty already has committed $142,000 for a new endowed scholarship.  This bears repeating: Members of our own faculty, who already work so hard for the school, have pledged substantial amounts of their own money to help students.  My wife Nancy and I have established another scholarship." 

How kind of you! Why don't you just do the same thing more directly and lower tuition instead? And again, as said above, none of these efforts have kept Duke students from taking on more debt every year - that's what actually matters.

3) Bridge to Practice:

" Again, the support of alumni mentors and donors for this program — which costs close to $300,000 each year — has been critical."

Explain to me how to this is not the classic, textbook definition of a Ponzi scheme. The new students are forced to pony up 300k - per YEAR - to pay for the graduated students who can't find jobs, but whom are reported as "employed" in their internships. Thus the ROI is artificially propped up by the fresh tuition dollars of the incoming students. I appreciate that the school is trying to help students, but let's not forget that in 2010 (when the current 3Ls enrolled) Duke was claiming a 100 percent employment rate without disclosing the existence of Bridge to Practice (Current 3Ls had never even heard of it until after they started school). They are not doing Bridge to Practice out of the goodness of their hearts, they're doing it to game the rankings. And the website even now is pathetically vague about how many students actually get permanent positions as a result of the program.

4) LRAP: We have expanded our LRAP (loan repayment assistance program) for students who seek careers in the public interest, in government and in non-profits.

Nowhere does he mention that Duke's LRAP is tied to IBR, meaning that Duke is using a government welfare program designed for people with financial hardships to pay the loans of public interest lawyers. And not telling them the risk this entails for their ballooning underlying loan balance (in case they lose their job or quit the public sector and lose eligibility) and credit scores. How...responsible.

176 comments:

  1. Why hasn't anyone done research on why tuition has gone up so much? Where is all this extra money going? Doesn't seem like increased salaries for professors can possibly be the answer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://www.mjlr.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Campos_MJLR_46.1.pdf

      Delete
    2. "Why hasn't anyone done research on why tuition has gone up so much?"

      Yes, let's research that. Holy shit you're such a bunch of losers. No wonder law school administrators are raping your asses.

      THE TUITIONS WENT UP SO THEY CAN GET MORE MONEY YOU MORONS!

      When are you pathetic nobodies, who will always be nobodies because that's your personality, going to give it up?!

      You picked a fight with law schools and they DESTROYED you. They financially RAPED you without your consent (that's what fraud is). You went to court and they DESTROYED YOU there too, winning in every action. They continue to DESTROY you by raising tuition at will by huge amounts well above inflation.

      The lesson from the law school scam movement is an ageless one. There are two groups of people in this world, winners and losers. They're winners. You're losers. Ending the law school scam won't change that one bit, because winners will find another way to pwn you losers.

      You pieces of garbage need to live out your pathetic lives until you turn into fertilizer, at which point you will make your one real contribution to the world.

      Delete
    3. What is your contribution exactly? Are you starting to get desperate because you are starting to lose now that the truth is coming out?

      You are the person with the deep- rooted problem of hatred here. I don't understand why you feel so angry that the scam is being exposed.

      These battles aren't over yet.

      Also, I've told you before - but stop assuming that the people. Concerned about the scam are all losers. You should know your enemy better than that.

      But, honestly, my favorite part is when you act like law schools won a major victory when a judge decided that the numbers produced by law schools were so obviously fake that few people could gave been fooled by them. Not to mention the ethical violations involved.

      Remember the tobacco litigation? This is the same- but the damage these suits are inflicting on these schools cannot be denied.

      The tide is turning- maybe that is why you are so mad. You are losing and you can't stand but.

      Delete
    4. Eat a bullet, Mr. Infinity.

      Delete
  2. As a recent grad with $140,000 in debt ($120,000 in federal loans), can I just say that all the harping about it hurting credit scores is only technically true? Our household income is a little over $60K. Just making my low-low IBR payments keeps my credit scores above 750. They would be marginally better without the IBR loans, but not much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you been able to get a mortgage?? Just curious.

      I've heard that employers might view this amount of debt negatively. Have you seen that?

      Delete
    2. I have a modest mortgage of about $125,000. That won't get you much in some cities, but your credit score won't be the only thing that keeps an IBR participant from buying in NYC. Simply not being able to afford will keep you out of the market.

      And I have a security clearance. You can get dinged for bankruptcy, but there isn't a grave concern about debts from "legitimate" sources.

      Delete
  3. http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=202920&p=6338704#p6338704


    Cooley discount on tuition- read this thread it is hilarious!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is absolutely nuts.

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    2. Cooley's tuition/scholarships have always been like that.

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    3. Just a couple of years ago, Cooley's discounts were based solely on the LSAT score—unabashed purchasing of high scorers ("high" by Cooley's standards being in the low 160s). The highest discount was 100%. Evidently Cooley fell on hard times last year and had to cut the top discount back to 75%.

      Delete
    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    5. "Here at Cooley, are (sic) degrees are so versatile--you can use them to clean your kitchen, dry the car or even scrub your boat."

      Wow! Gotta get one! That's why I signed up for the Princeton Review course advertised at the bottom of the page. Me want that 75% scholarhip!

      Delete
  4. Levi seems to want a medal for his tax-deductible donation to the law school. Giving back a tiny bit of his obscenely high salary is supposedly an act of generosity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He sure does want to give back the loose change in the cup holder of the $300,000 Mercedes AMG he stole. Why would you judge him for such a sincere act of contrition ? ///Sarcasm off

      Delete
  5. "Bridge to Practice", my ass. Bridge to Penury is more like it. Why does a supposedly top-ranked law school need to fund a bunch of otherwise unemployed graduates?

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  6. I was just looking at NALP's PSJD website (a website that is supposed to help connect JD holders with employers) and found something that I found very misleading and something that I had previously wrote to them to request that they change, but they have not.

    http://www.psjd.org/

    PSJD is a site that posts public interest legal and legally related jobs. On the right side of the screen, they have a 'Featured Employers' section as well as a 'Featured Job Postings' section. All of the featured job postings are unpaid internships - not one single paid job there. Why are they advertising unpaid internships as jobs? Very misleading. And why are they featuring unpaid internships at the expense of paid ones? (There are paid jobs on the site elsewhere, but not one single paid job is in the featured jobs section. Why is this? The site's slogan is "Your pathway to Public Service Legal Careers." It would be better renamed as "An Employer's Pathway to Free Labor," since that is what they seem to be actively advocating at the expense of paid positions.

    Second, with regards to their Featured Employers section, not one employer featured is advertising any job openings on the site, although one organization offers an unpaid internship, of course. Why are non-hiring organizations featured as 'employers?'

    C'mon NALP. This generation needs you. We are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt for our education. We could really use some help connecting us with jobs to help us pay off that debt. Highlighting unpaid internships instead of paid jobs is not only misleading, it's promoting free work from individuals who are in massive debt and least likely to be able to afford it. Employers need to start paying for the labor that they are getting. I had to pay (a lot) to learn the skills that they are freely using.

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    Replies
    1. This is an excellent point. I hope law prof makes a post about this soon. Thank you for pointing this put.

      Delete
  7. I go to a T30 and have a professor who is a Duke alum. He brought up this email in class today just to tell us that Duke is a better school than the one where he teaches because people are still applying there in droves but are fleeing from our middling school.

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  8. Dean Levi is a former federal judge, rather than someone who had just been a professor all his life.

    Just saying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Being a judge didnt help sotomayer understand the scam.

      Delete
  9. I really wish law professors/deans would stop pretending it is impossible to train lawyers for less that $40,000+ per year

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    Replies
    1. Yeah. Let's have a look at what tuition cost in other common law juridictions:

      Kaplan's BPTC course (AKA the most expensive course at the most expensive - and entirely privately funded - school in England, though BPP is close behind) - 17,000 GBP maximum = 27,000 USD.

      Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2012/mar/13/sitting-kaplan-bptc-aptitude-test

      The University of Aberdeen's Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (AKA the most expensive and apparently not publicly funded course in Scotland since this is the rate for international students also): 6,500 GBP = 10,000 USD

      Source: http://www.lawscot.org.uk/education-and-careers/studying-law/considering-studying-law/how-much-does-it-cost-to-qualify-

      University of New South Wales's JD program - international rate (apparently no support from the Australian Commonwealth government): 34,080 AUD = 37,000 USD

      Source: http://www.law.unsw.edu.au/future-students/unsw-jd/cost

      University of Calgary - international rate for 2010 (Canada's most expensive school - the average in around 20-25,000 CAD and other than Calgary only Toronto peaked over 30K CAD - apparently no public support) - 39,806 CAD = 39,000 USD

      Source: http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/09/16/law-school-what-will-it-cost/

      Seems no-where in the world do they think that law should, on average, cost more than 45K USD to study. We could talk about the quality of the training people receive

      Delete
    2. Yeah. Let's have a look at what tuition cost in other common law juridictions:

      Kaplan's BPTC course (AKA the most expensive course at the most expensive - and entirely privately funded - school in England, though BPP is close behind) - 17,000 GBP maximum = 27,000 USD.

      Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2012/mar/13/sitting-kaplan-bptc-aptitude-test

      The University of Aberdeen's Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (AKA the most expensive and apparently not publicly funded course in Scotland since this is the rate for international students also): 6,500 GBP = 10,000 USD

      Source: http://www.lawscot.org.uk/education-and-careers/studying-law/considering-studying-law/how-much-does-it-cost-to-qualify-

      University of New South Wales's JD program - international rate (apparently no support from the Australian Commonwealth government): 34,080 AUD = 37,000 USD

      Source: http://www.law.unsw.edu.au/future-students/unsw-jd/cost

      University of Calgary - international rate for 2010 (Canada's most expensive school - the average in around 20-25,000 CAD and other than Calgary only Toronto peaked over 30K CAD - apparently no public support) - 39,806 CAD = 39,000 USD

      Source: http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/09/16/law-school-what-will-it-cost/

      Seems no-where in the world do they think that law should, on average, cost more than 45K USD to study. We could talk about the quality of the training people receive

      Delete
    3. (oops - seems I got cut off) . . . but is the difference really worth 10,000+ USD a year? Not in my experience.

      Delete
    4. Why look at Scotland and Canada?

      Temple charges 19K in-state, and 75% are in-state. BYU charges 10K in faith.

      And these are a top 50 and top 60 school. BYU regularly graduates supreme court clerks, and temple has a decent position in a major metro area.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
  11. He does not mention Coach K's $7.2 million salary, which I am sure would be equal to, what, maybe 30-40 law faculty members?

    Cut Coach K's salary in half and use the money to reduce law school tuition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 6:32 - I was a top level scholarship athlete at Duke, and attended there when Coach K was just starting. Your post reminds me of my experience on the law review of a top 10 school, where my colleagues were by and large effete progressive nerds who had scarcely any idea of how competitive athletics operate and the impact it has on a school. I felt like I was on another planet, with no one to which I could relate. Now, I think college athletics are completely out of control, and do great damage to the academic mission, but no amount of whining will change the fact that success in major sports can change a school, and radically.

      Duke was a top 25 school when I attended. It soon rose to be a top 10 school in the rankings. Are the rankings meaningless? Yes, in that they do not enhance any one individual's education. But they attract all sorts of money and prestige to a school. At Duke, Coach K's contribution cannot really be valued - his contributions are almost immeasurable.

      Offering a recommendation to cut Coach K salary in half is completely misguided and naive. He could walk to the Lakers or Celtics and get paid 10 million a year, no problem (and in fact he has threatened to do so, letting the Duke Presidents know who is the most powerful person on campus - by far). He brings in orders of magnitude more revenue than he is paid - unlike law school - the darn basketball team is all about delivering value. Let's get out of the effete, wimpy, progressive argumentative lawyer mode and get in the real world, hug?. There are huge structural problems in legal education, and even the Duke Law Schools of the nation are being impacted. The pay of a basketball coach is irrelevant.

      Delete
    2. And with the Duke name they could not recruit another high caliber coach for half the price? Or would they just shut down the program without him?

      Just saying that this is the same argument law professors make for high -- but much lesser-- pay.

      Delete
    3. I have no idea why you think students go to a law school based on their athletics.

      People go to Duke if they think they have a better shot at getting a job there and if they have local ties.

      In years of reading TLS I have never seen a single person decide on a school because of its basket ball team. That is undergrad stuff at best.

      Delete
    4. "they attract all sorts of money and prestige to a school"

      Does any of that money ever find its way out of the athletic department?

      Delete
    5. Most D-1 big-time athletic departments are self-funded.

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    6. Only about 20 percent of the big-time athletic departments make money.

      Delete
  12. Best Reason EVER (To donate to UR LS)January 24, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    Got this really snazzy solicitation with a "how can you pass it up?" incentive to donate to my law school.

    It seems, if I'm willing to donate, that I will have, for the next six months, LIBRARY PRIVILEGES at the law library. YES, EVEN the privilege to check out books (excepting certain reference materials, of course).

    How could I ever pass up an opportunity like this?

    Donate Today!

    Operators are Standing -

    `Bye!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is there a minimum donation requirement? If not, donate a penny and see what happens.

      Delete
    2. The "Career Development Office" at my goddamn law school ignores me—and I'm a current student. How much do you want to bet that the school will hit me up for money after graduation?

      I'll certainly tell them where to get off.

      Delete
    3. "How much do you want to bet that the school will hit me up for money after graduation?

      I'll certainly tell them where to get off."

      Just burn the school down now and flee to Canada; there is no good way out of the lawl skool mess now.

      Delete
  13. There was a post on TLS last year by a duke alum who couldn't qualify for the felliwship so she didn't have any job lined up. I think she was trying to return to her field of employment pre-law school.

    A lot of the TLS kids thought she had to be a flame. They didn't think that anyone could graduate from Duke without a job.

    I think the alumni should request specific numbers that shows what the tuition truly is for each student. There are plenty of kids paying sticker to go there.

    They should also ask for the number of students on LRAP and how long they have been on it.

    They should also ask what the faculty are doing who are working so hard for the school? I would live to hear their definition of hard work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also I would like to know what they do to help students who can't find anything? Do they blame the student and leave them out to dry?

      I hope the alumni don't ease up on their pressure on the school.

      Delete
  14. Levi starred in this infamous video where he talked about the amazing inter-disciplinary education that all the great schools (including dook which is SWeet) offer. Near the end, when the audience starts talking about jobs, Levi has a tin ear and tells them to stop whining. He'a an out of touch asshole.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lXxfsJgqyA

    ReplyDelete
  15. Perhaps one of the lines that needs to be unpacked is the line about how "tuition does not cover the full cost of the education."

    I've been hearing variations of this for decades, back to my private high school. It was a canned response to anybody who complained about tuition or costs at my college and law school, as well.

    Does it just mean that, after all tuition is received (covering say, oh, 95% of costs), the school lands another 5% from alumni, donors, federal grants, etc.?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Particularly when schools like Vermont were paid for by student tuition.

      And we know law schools send a huge percentage to the parent I university. I bet duke law sends at least 20% to the university. This should be questioned by alumni as well.

      Delete
    2. You guys are overthinking this. "Tuition doesn't cover the full cost of education" simply means "give us more money." The question of what, exactly, tuition does cover is just a deflecting mechanism. You're supposed to get lost in thought about all the amazing (but expensive!) things these educators do, until you conclude, on your own, "well, I guess it must be super expensive to produce law grads/BA's in art history/high school grads," whatever the product is.
      If they can't provide the product at a price point that makes sense to the people seeking to buy it, there's zero reason why they can't be allowed to go out of business. There are public high schools. There are community colleges, and still some relatively affordable state schools (although, as with LS, if bankruptcy protection were allowed for student debtors I think we'd see college costs drop through the floor within a few years). There is no reason to think that legal education can't be delivered more cheaply than it is now.
      Education isn't priceless, in spite of what a subset of well-fed boomers wants the rest of the country to believe.

      Delete
    3. Yes. Whether or not tuition covers the full cost, the full cost is too high.

      Delete
    4. "You guys are overthinking this. "Tuition doesn't cover the full cost of education" simply means "give us more money."

      Agreed.

      It used to be that the best and brightest of Americans used to make things.

      Now the "best and brightest" of the Boomers are only capable of making...things up.

      The ruling elite of this nation (including law professors) are nothing more than empty suits and pathological liars who believe themselves competent.

      Where do you think overage alcoholic wrecks and white collar drug abusers come from?

      Anything to hide the truth from themselves.

      Delete
  16. At least Levi didn't go into the whole "cost of technology keeps costs rising" bullshit that other deans have spewed. If you compare the costs of technology today to 10 years ago, this is what you can conclude:

    1) Computers, desktops and laptops, are better today and cheaper than 10 years ago.

    2) Mobile minutes and data plans are cheaper today than 10 years ago.

    3) IT services are cheaper today than 10 years ago.

    4) T1 and wifi is cheaper today than it was 10 years ago.

    5) Westlaw/Lexis is cheaper today (more flexible plans) than it was 10 years ago.

    Please tell me how technology has driven the costs of tuition? Are law schools providing the Playboy premium channel to law schools?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. last law schools should read "law professors."

      Delete
    2. "Please tell me how technology has driven the costs of tuition?"

      At Chicago-Kent, they recently (2010? 2011?) installed a massive amount of "smart" classroom technology: multiple big-screen monitors in every classroom, digital projectors, specialized kiosks the professors could teach from that seamlessly integrated their laptops into the classroom, speakers, etc.

      In one of my classes the year they did this, the professor stated that some of the students surveyed by the ABA accrediting committee had grumbled about the cost of this cool technology.

      The professor's response - which I assume was parroted from some dean - was that the school's technology was fifteen years out of date.

      As a student there, this was news to me. Aside from the wireless needing a slight upgrade to cure some speed/connectivity issues, the school had every bit of technology a law school needed to function efficiently.

      But to the professor, it was essential, and the cost was a non-issue because "we have been budgeting for this for years."

      Never underestimate the power of a "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality among wealthy people with hands on purse strings. My guess is that a lot of schools severely overbudget their technological upgrades, pushing expenses and tuition higher, and then spend it because they have it budgeted.

      Delete
    3. "Never underestimate the power of a "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality among wealthy people with hands on purse strings."

      Or the power of kickbacks to grease the sleazy palms of Deans in charge of purchasing (and their superiors).

      Delete
  17. I wonder how much applications have increased at Duke because people expect it to be easier to get in?

    Also doesn't Duke have some plan where you can get an answer in a short time? Priority review or something? He also doesn't mention if they have started giving out more fee waivers in recent year, which would also increase applicants.

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  18. I agree completely with everything you have said. This is something that is very important and has been largely overlooked by the law community.

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  19. Usually, the more you pay for something the better it is. Law schools seem to defy that theory.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Usually, the more you pay for something the better it is. Law schools seem to defy that theory."

      Public education.

      The military.

      Medicare.

      Notice a pattern?

      When someone mentions "public provision of public goods" everyone's immediate mental image should be of...

      "Public toilet"

      When private sector entities defraud someone - there is an individual victim who is highly motivated to seek justice and publicize injustice.

      When public sector entities defraud someone - *everyone* is a victim - but the drive for justice is diffuse and "led" by politicians mostly interested in seeking...campaign contributions - conveniently provided by publicly funded victimizers.

      And so America *rots*.

      Delete
  20. This may seem like an extraneous issue - but law schools price a credit hour at between $1200 and $1900 - Duke claims I think an instate of $1322 per credit hour. Now assuming an average of 25 students per class and a 13 week semester that means that each hour of face time is $2542. Allow say 2 hours prep for each hour of teaching time and that comes to $847 per hour.

    That is a pretty good hourly rate for a senior partner in a large law firm. And remember the partner has to cover overhead out of the $847 just as Duke does.

    So my question is, why not pay practicing lawyers an hourly rate for teaching many of these courses.

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  21. This may seem like an extraneous issue - but law schools price a credit hour at between $1200 and $1900 - Duke claims I think an instate of $1322 per credit hour. Now assuming an average of 25 students per class and a 13 week semester that means that each hour of face time is $2542. Allow say 2 hours prep for each hour of teaching time and that comes to $847 per hour.

    That is a pretty good hourly rate for a senior partner in a large law firm. And remember the partner has to cover overhead out of the $847 just as Duke does.

    So my question is, why not pay practicing lawyers an hourly rate for teaching many of these courses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I made this case before, but from a different angle. The hourly rate at the low end would be sufficient to pay for a senior practicing lawyer to teach the class, true, but the rate at the high end is sufficient for the students to pay for a struggling lawyer to teach them one-on-one.

      Starting with $1900 a credit hour for a 13-week term, each student pays $146 per class hour. Since one-on-one tuition requires much less prep than is required for a large class, a 1:1 ratio between prep and face-time is actually quite reasonable. This means each student could pay someone $73 per hour to teach them one-on-one at the same overall price as they pay in more expensive US law schools. Not Biglaw senior partner rates, to be true, but how many lawyers are there out there willing to take $73 an hour to do relatively stress-free work?

      Of course, ABA regulations don't allow this, but who wonders if the outcomes for the majority of students might not be better?

      Delete
    2. I've made the same point, too: students could hire private tutors for a lot less than the cost of law school.

      Delete
    3. (Sorry, posted that before it was finished.) And indeed in Germany the privately paid Repetitor is commonplace. But the ABA's racket corrals everyone into overpriced law skools.

      Delete
  22. MacK,
    Tenure track professors do much more than teach and prep. In fact, teaching, prepping, and meeting with students is said to be about 40% of my job. On the student side, in addition to teaching and prepping, I have 6 hours of office hours every week, a weekly lunch with students, and usually schedule 3-5 student meetings outside of my office hours each week. But that is only 40% of my job. At higher ranked schools, it is a much lower percentage.

    We can argue about the value, or lack of value, or scholarship, but it takes a great deal of my time. I would take a substantial pay cut if relieved of my scholarship requirements, but, at least in my case, I believe my scholarship helps the school and the students. It helps the reputation of the school (which indirectly helps students) because I publish not only in law reviews, but also in well-read practitioner journals, newspapers, etc. It helps the students more directly because the research helps keep me an expert in my field.

    Also, tenure track faculty members run the school, which is not that different than running a medium-sized business. We do work in admissions, make decisions about IT, and have committees on everything from the curriculum to policies to innovating for the future of legal education.

    I practiced law for 15 years, which is uncommon for professors and probably one of the reasons I am at a low-ranked law school, but I can assure you that many great lawyers would make terrible professors. The skill sets are different and many "practicing lawyers" would talk over the heads of students, or be too worried about their current cases to care about or mentor students.

    I appreciate the problems facing our graduates. And I spend a great deal of time on the phone with my contacts trying to get our graduates jobs. Also, at least at my school, and at many others, we are working on making drastic changes to legal education. Well, at least as drastic as the ABA will allow at this time.

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    1. This right here exemplifies what LP has been saying about why the professoriate is so resistant to the scam movement. This poster sounds like a good guy, all things considered, so he thinks, "Well, I'm an ethical hard working person, so *I* couldn't be scamming my students. Therefore, my institution isn't scamming my students."

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    2. "I am at a low-ranked law school, but I can assure you that many great lawyers would make terrible professors."

      The problem is that many professors make terrible professors, and since lawyers end up training their 'practice ready' new hires anyway . . . .

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    3. No, you don't really appreciate anything if you're going to post something like this.

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    4. Here's the thing: there are way, way, way too many law graduates. The simple fact that your school exists is harmful to your students and society as a whole. It doesn't matter how good your intentions are or how hard you are working.

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    5. FOARP, I made the original comment, and I agree with you that a number of law professors are terrible professors. Many others, however, are excellent. In fact, I would say 75% of my professors in law school were masterful teachers and mentors.

      BreezyWheeze, I believe that students should have all of the facts. And my school provides a lot of information on its website, and I am pushing for even more. If the facts are available, and I recognize that is a big if, then it is up to the student to make the decision. I have two friends who went to get expensive advanced degrees in fields they could never, ever hope of making more than $40,000 on graduation. Almost no one in those fields ever earns more than $70,000. They knew that, and made that decision anyway, because it was what they wanted to do. I love teaching, and took a 67% pay cut to do so. Not all decision have to make financial sense. But I do agree that prospective students should have the real data and I think the "scam" and "transparency" movements are helping unearth that information.

      As this information gets out there, fewer students will go to law schools and law schools will close, or adapt. And the market will correct.

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    6. I get that there are great professors teaching out there. It may be that 75% of them are great and 25% are not-so-great, or that you can reverse those figures, but are students learning things that they actually need to know? Especially considering the fact that graduates still have to take bar courses to pass the bar, and receive considerable training before they genuinely do become 'practice ready'?

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    7. to the law prof poster. stop using scare quotes around "scam" and "transparency." it sends the message that you don't really understand that a scam is happening, and that you don't think the transparency movement has had an effect. it's the scam movement. it's the transparency push. see?

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    8. Scholarship may provide some benefit to your students. The question is whether it is worth the absolutely massive amounts of loan money students and federal government are pouring into your enterprise.

      You seem to have fallen into the typical law professor trap that being able to articulate any possible benefit from a program justifies its expense. Nobody seriously thinks that scholarship has zero value in a vacuum, but I've seen no evidence that the quality or impact of scholarship was worse 30 years ago when law students were paying a fraction of the tuition they are now, and there's no reason you or your colleagues have to be paid multiples of what you did then in order to produce that benefit. You owe it to them to look very candidly at the system you are a part of and do a real "cost-benefit" analysis, not just a "benefit" analysis.

      You may have taken a salary cut, but the benefits you get in terms of discretion, hours reduction, and not having to answer to bosses or clients are well worth the money loss. And for the millionth time, people don't go into most grad programs expecting high-paying jobs (or else schools wouldn't be getting sued when their students don't get jobs).

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    9. I don't deny that many practicing lawyers would be bad teachers - but not all. Litigators "teach" constantly - they teach juries. I teach clients every day of the week the issues that the client needs to learn about - I teach associates and assistants.

      As for the "other" things a professor does, many of these things have analogues in legal practice. So I can find plenty of analogues to "6 hours of office hours every week, a weekly lunch with students, and usually schedule 3-5 student meetings outside of my office hours each week."

      That leaves "scholarship" as professors are wont to call it - which since the law school's primary mission is training lawyers, seems hard to justify.

      But let me go back to my posting. By my math every hour of facetime for a law professor with students is (based on an average class size) priced at $2500 or so (as you know 1L classes and some other are much larger.) Translate that to 4 hours of teaching a week and it is $10,000 - 6 hours is $15,000. I assure you most law firms would be quite happy with a law partner who brought in less than that in weekly revenue, maybe not BigLaw - but a typical firm.

      Thus the issue I am trying to point to is that on an hourly basis the cost of law professor time, even taking account of the "other" things a law professor does is astronomical when compared to a fairly senior law firm partner.

      Moreover, there are only 12,000 law professors in the United States. Are you really suggesting that of the some 900,000 practicing lawyers there would not be 12,000 (about 1.3%) that cannot teach - the very idea is ludicrous.

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    10. I have been keeping track of my time as a professor (and have to put responding to blog comments in the "wasted" row), but I am happy to humor you. In an average week, I work about 60 hours a week. About 30 is directly related to students (teaching, prep, mentoring, student meetings). About 15 is dedicated to scholarship and professional development. About 5-10 is dedicated to service (committees, bar organizations, etc.). And about 5-10 hours are wasted each week.

      I make roughly $100K. In practice, I made approximately $300K. I worked roughly the same hours in practice, albeit with much less flexibility and enjoyment. Now, the work as a professor is much more enjoyable and more flexible, which is why I agreed to the significant pay cut.

      I do agree that many of my fellow professors deserve to be paid less. My ConLaw colleagues couldn't get a 50K job if they were fired. I, however, still have a standing offer to rejoin my firm (though in another 5 years or some, I assume my marketability will decrease significantly).

      But to your point: my school pays me far less than my firm did for my time. If all I had to do was teach, then yes, you are right, I or most "practicing lawyers" would probably take even less. But the ABA will not currently also such an arrangement.

      More could be done without the ABA and US News Required courses must be taught by full-time professors. You are going to have to pay good lawyers (and I admit that there are probably many who could teach very well, if they devoted themselves to it) about what my school pays me to be a full-time professor.

      Schools could cut scholarship requirements and increase teaching loads, but those schools would fall in the rankings because peer reputation is 25% of the rankings. And both prospective students and employers follow the rankings.

      Could I envision a school with minimal scholarship requirements (most of it practical), high teaching loads, few full-time faculty, many adjuncts, and a tuition of less than $10,000 a year. Yes. But that school, currently, would have a very hard time getting ABA accreditation, and an even harder time moving up in the rankings.

      UC-Irvine is the current model of "success." Their students are placing better than any of the schools in the bottom 100. But UC-I is very expensive and hired very academic professors - mostly with very impressive academic resumes and very little work experience. It will be interesting to see if their success continues as they stop buying their students, but to date they are doing better than long-time bottom feeding schools.

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    11. "Could I envision a school with minimal scholarship requirements (most of it practical), high teaching loads, few full-time faculty, many adjuncts, and a tuition of less than $10,000 a year. Yes. But that school, currently, would have a very hard time getting ABA accreditation, and an even harder time moving up in the rankings."

      Surely this is an example of where the ABA regulations and the rankings systems are causing problems? After all, many common-law countries have entirely privately funded courses training lawyers for no more than 20,000 USD a year in tuition. Why not the US?

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    12. Adjuncts at my law school were paid around $25,000 per class. They had no problem getting top partners at major law firms with $800 billing rates (as well as judges, AUSAs, and cause lawyers) to come teach seminars and I saw little difference between them and my tenured full law professors. Certainly not the difference that would justify the enormous salaries paid to the tenured profs. Those lawyers just liked to teach.

      The $10,000 school would be founded with the premise that 1) they don't give a shit about USN rankings, since the ranking are not a good predictor of student outcomes, 2) their graduates are not going ever going to be competitive for biglaw, the DOJ, AIII clerkships, the ACLU or other prestigious organizations (that is, the organizations the majority of tenured profs and their law school classmates worked for out of law school). Their graduates will probably be limited to local government or small private firms making around 40-50K. The school accepts this as current reality for the majority of law schools, even those that charge 45K per year and deliver a traditional legal education with tenured, HYS former COA clerks at the helm.

      Accreditation is a problem created by your colleagues, who as you said, run the law school.

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    13. Harvard tuition in 1971, in 2011 dollars: $12,386

      Salary for senior professors at HLS in 1971, in 2011 dollars (approximation): $150,000

      A little more than a generation ago HARVARD LAW SCHOOL got by just fine charging barely more than $10K per year in current dollars.

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    14. But you don't teach every week of the year, do you? Most professors have summers off, when they do things like go to telluride and work on books or articles.

      That doesn't include the other holidays from teaching.

      You aren't humoring anyone here by consescending to respond to comments . You remain woefully out of touch. You don't understand the harm you have done to countless of students who trusted you as a professor. Transparency is just beginning and you can see the effect.

      Honestly no one cares about you taking a pay cut for a much improved life with less salary. You are still making too much for the value you provide. Students are leaving with that debt burdening them and no jobs. Yet you want credit for meeting with them a few hours a week and having a lunch? You want credit for making a few phone calls to try to get students jobs? Dude, that is part of the job you are overpaid to do.

      You might want to keep reading these blogs- at least you get paid to "waste" time on reading about your jobless, debt- encumbered grads. I'm sure they didn't pay you to surf the web at your law firm.

      For your sake, I hope you kept your skills up, because the hammer is going to fall. It has already started.

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    15. When professors teach over the summer, they get paid more.

      This professor is disengenous when he claims he works as many hours at his firm. His life is so much better now, yet he acts like it is worse because he took a pay cut.

      And , professor, you are dead wrong. Going to law school has to make financial sense. It is too much of a risk.

      Do you have any clue how many lawyers out there would be thrilled to make $70,000? Do you realize that half of all grads will never practice law? Not even for twenty bucks an hour?

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    16. anonymous professor -

      I have earned a little north of the number you quoted every year, but the use of my time is similar to that you describe proffing - and my hourly rate is reasonably high.

      That said, my hours are awful, I travel a lot, and there is no certainty that next year my earnings will be six-figures. They could drop to $30-60k, or zero.

      When you describe the $100k salary (which is a lot less than a Duke professor would get) you fail to mention the benefit of tenure - the fact that (unless your school closes) a tenured professor gets that pay check for life (or until they choose to retire.) That is a huge value - hell I'd take 1/3 of what I now earn to know that I would get it reliably for the next 20-35 years, along with getting out of the travel, timekeeping and billing.

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    17. Sorry - not "I have earned a little north of the number you quoted every year" I meant over the last few years.

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    18. Yes, the job of a professor is a very good one. But if you think that professors, outside of the T-14, have security in this environment, then you haven't been reading this blog or the newspaper. We all get fired if the school closes.

      Also, the fact that the law professor job is such a very good one is why it is incredibly competitive. You can't be a tenure track professor, even at a T4, without some really impressive credentials. I graduated #3 in my class from a T-25 school, COA clerkship, 4 years in BigLaw, 11 in a regional firm. And I was only good enough for a T4. Do the standards have to be so high? Probably not, especially at T4. Do I know good attorneys who would do my job for $75K? Yes. Do I know good attorneys who would do my job for 50K? No. Not any decent ones. I know some worthless attorneys who might, but they would probably be worthless as professors as well.

      What everyone on the board continues to miss is that professors run the school. Sure you could hire some people to come into the school to teach a few hours a week (if the ABA allowed required classes to be taught by adjuncts), but all of the details involved in running any business would go untended. Given the freedom by the ABA, schools could charge less than $10,000/year, but they would still have to pay some professors $75,000+ to teach and run the school.

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    19. "Also, tenure track faculty members run the school, which is not that different than running a medium-sized business."

      Thank you.

      Recorded as an admission against interest - detailing *direct* faculty involvement in the alleged fraudulent practices of law schools - in the reporting of admission standards, price discriminated tuitions, and, most importantly, placement success.

      Just think how simple it might be to get one (appropriately) fearful academic to roll on the whole sh*t factory when he/she is *directly* threatened with personal liability for the practices of the sleazy institution which the faculty collectively runs.

      The professoriate has operated as a profiteering mafia for decades.

      Going forward they will be treated as such.

      Think all of your colleagues are capable of standing up to ten minutes worth prosecutorial pressure?

      One mention of prison showers and soap and your average legal academic will bend over faster than a hooker with a crack addiction.

      Given the collective willingness of the Professorial Mafia to betray hundreds of thousands of students - I don't think the Ship of Rats will stand in solidarity very long if criminal charges (false reporting to government student loan regulators, etc.) start cropping up.

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    20. And that is a fair point about the summers. I don't teach during the summers, but that is when I do most of my research and a lot of my professional development. If I had no research requirements, and could spend the summers relaxing or doing paid legal work, I would take a substantial pay cut, which could help tuition costs some, but not as much as you might think.

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    21. That's funny AnonProf, because all I've heard for years is "tenured professors have no control over tuition or class size, that's the province of the deans/trustees/university president." That law professors shoulder the day to day tasks of "running the school" and not the armies of deans, vice deans, assistant deans, and administrators sounds unconvincing. What are some actual administrative tasks that you do daily or weekly?

      A lot of administrative tasks would be irrelevant at a hypothetical $10,000 a year school. You don't need formal career counseling. You don't need course descriptions for 300 classes. You don't need shiny brochures and marketing pitches for alumni. A cheaper school would leave more time for teaching.

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    22. We don't disagree as much as you might think. I wish my law school charged 1/3 or 1/4 of what it does, and I think we could, if significant changes were made by the ABA and U.S. News. Actually, even if the ABA just made changes, you are right, we could just ignore US News and offer an inexpensive product that gave good value. But again, you have to have tenure track professors teaching required classes, and good luck finding good tenure track professors under 75K. Most that you would want teaching you would require over 100K for a full-time job.

      Weekly, I serve on multiple committees. I sit on the admissions committee that evaluates border-line admission files for 3-4 hours per week from Nov. to April. Our curriculum committee has been especially busy as we have been working on designing a 2-year curriculum, a juris masters program, and two new LLM programs. Yes, I know LLM programs are worthless. I voted against us adding LLM programs, but I was outvoted. The two-year program and a juris masters degree are actually good ideas and come closer to being a good deal for more students. Usually the CC only meets 2x a month, but we have been meeting every week, usually for 1-3 hours. Again, small time commitments individually, but they add up. I am also on our faculty development committee and we spend a fair bit of time planning our speaker series, which is open to faculty and students.

      I read this blog looking for ideas. I suggest that you, and LawProf, spend more time offering up realistic suggestions. Schools are not going to voluntarily close. They will stay open as long as there are students. Maybe some will close soon. I don't think many professors would argue that serious change isn't necessary. But we do need workable solutions.

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    23. ^^^^^^^^
      This, in spades! Two years I'm making six figures and the next year I'm wondering how to make overhead. Tell me, any of you, do you think ou anonymous prof ever has to worry about paying his secretary?

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    24. That is, I am endorsing MacK's point about income stability.

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    25. ...and remember that stability is taxed fairly, whereas instability is not.

      If you make 400k one year, you're taxed as-if you make 400k every year. But a lot of lawyers - especially in areas like PI or where bills aren't paid regularly - use great years to offset terrible ones. From a pure income perspective, making 60k, then 100k, then 30k, then 150k in reportable income is 340k, the same as making 85k constant.

      But here's how they're taxed:

      85k = ~14k tax every year => 16% tax rate

      60k = ~8.6k
      100k= ~18.7k
      30k= ~2.6k
      150k= ~32.7k

      Tax sum = ~62.6 => 18.4% effective tax rate.

      Congrats, you're paying a tax for being a working man or woman of variable income.

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    26. I have floated to some leftwing politicians the idea of tax averaging as a way to show they understand small business. Under such an arrangement if you had a big year in say Y1, medium year Y2 and lousy year Y3 you could pay some of Y2 with a carry over credit from Y2 and even get a small refund in Y3 if the average tax over all three years would have been lower. They thought it was a good idea, the Republicans thought it was a "subsidy," aka for losers.

      I think there are a bunch of issues here. First, there is the basic problem of twice as many law schools as the US needs, with half the productivity per professor as makes sense. Second, there is the reality that in the current law school environment "really impressive credentials ... #3 in ... class from a T-25 school, COA clerkship, 4 years in BigLaw, 11 in a regional firm [is] only good enough for a T4" and too good for a T1 where the usual professor has 2.6 years of semi experience but went to HYS.

      Law professors to me should be the cream of the legal profession - people who have excelled as lawyers who are able to teach. Screw this scholarship nonsense - if someone has been at the top of the game in their field for 5-15 years they should be teaching. Being a law professors should be a pre-retirement job for the best lawyers in the profession, where they can teach for 6-10 hours a week, mentor and hold office hours. It should not be something that people shoot for as 26-28 year old VAPs with no experience. Filter out the senior lawyers who cannot teach, but take the remainder into faculty.

      You could pay senior lawyers a salary that with tenure would get them to jump and teach 6-10 hours a week with office hours.They would flock to the job - and would probably teach enough hours without the BS scholarship to double faculty productivity.

      Let me put it another way, does anyone think that Anonymous Prof of 7:43Am is remotely typical of current T1 and T2 professors?

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    27. Professor: we disagree much more than you seem to understand. You have an incredibly priveleged position and you don't seem to understand that you have that position of the back breaking loans your jobless students carry.

      You want suggestions:

      1. Law schools have to have their data audited and the cost is covered by the school- and the data has to be exact in terms of employment and salaries. If someone does t respond they have to be included at a salary of zero.

      2. Law schools need to stop lying in their marketing and other materials. See the lies about tuition being 33,000 told by dukes dean

      3. Law schools need to go through tremendous cost- cutting and belt tightening. Tuition should be drastically reduced.

      4. Law schools should be allowed to give no stipulations on scholarships other than good standing.

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    28. One more thing: professors must understand the true lack of employment of grads . You make it sound like a 70,000 job is easy to get with a JD- it isn't.

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    29. I am not saying that 70K jobs are easy to get, especially not straight out of law school - in this market. But a significant number of law grads are still getting 70K jobs out of law school, and I would guess that a majority will make over 70K at some point in their lifetime. In contrast, friends who received PHDs in English or History (free, but for more significant opportunity costs) or masters in journalism (very expensive at the top schools) have almost no chance of making over 70K - ever.

      4:12. I agree with all your suggestions and have been pushing my school toward more and more transparency - except I think the $0 recording would be misleading in the other direction. We could put them in an unknown group, maybe with a note that it is likely that they are working at Starbucks. Also, I don't see anything wrong with scholarships with stipulations as long as the data is reported on the school's as is now being required by the ABA (even though supposedly about half of the schools are out of compliance currently).

      While law schools definitely have to take some responsibility, so do students. If prospective students get accurate data, and mistakenly think that they will be in the top 1%, that is at least partially their fault. No school or program is an absolute guarantee to a good job.

      As to those who keep talking about my job security, again, I think there is probably a 50% chance my law school will close in the next 5 years. I don't think that is a tremendous amount of job security. Better than many lawyers? Yes. But, remember, I am making a third of what I was making in practice.

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    30. "friends who received PHDs in English or History (free, but for more significant opportunity costs)"

      That's a remarkably limited definition of opportunity cost.

      "If prospective students get accurate data, and mistakenly think that they will be in the top 1%, that is at least partially their fault."

      Irrelevant straw man.

      "Better than many lawyers? Yes. But, remember, I am making a third of what I was making in practice."

      Then go back to practice.

      Delete
  23. Duke is a scam operation. When I was applying to law schools, I was offered 16,000/yr "scholarship" to go to Duke, and also a larger scholarship to go to a better ranked school. Then I was offered a once-in-a-lifetime, Godfather type deal at the ideal school for me, still very highly regarded. I naturally told Duke this, giving them the opportunity to match and, failing that, letting them know that I wouldn't be going. Admissions Dean's response? (I am paraphrasing as I no longer have the email) "Long term, a few thousand dollars won't make that much difference in your career. If you believe Duke is the best place for you, and I believe it is, you should still come here. You said you wanted to come to Duke the most, didn't you?" Umm, yes. I said that to a lot of places. Moron.

    He was half-right though. The pitiful "scholarship" offers don't make much of a difference.

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    1. What he really meant was that he didn't want you enough to increase the discount by a few thousand dollars. Yet he expected you to adore the very institution that so insulted you.

      Delete
  24. "Step right, up, step right up! A $78,000 value can be yours for the low, low price of only $52,000! But wait! If you act now (operators are standing by!) you can take advantage of our one time only scholarship package and have this amazing product for only $33,000. Thats right folks, $33,000 foe a $78,000 value?!"

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  25. Does the good dean think we are idiots? That we can possibly believe Duke loses an average of $45K per student per year? I was at the Bar for over 35 years, tried a few fraud cases and litigated a lot more to other resolutions but I can't remember seeing many statements this brazen.

    RPL

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    1. Agreed. Also wonder how much of the students tuition is actually going into their education, instead of the undergrad college, institutional development and other highly paid but unnecessary staff.

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  26. "Duke slyly uses its scholarships to make everyone feel like a special snowflake to get them to enroll."

    Apparently, law schools have immense, recurring costs for items such as the latest medical technology, lab space, etc. These thieving pigs ought to have apples shoved in their snouts.

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  27. Professor -
    I was fortunate enough to graduate with a debt level that could conceivably be repaid. But what is my incentive for doing so? I don't make much money and it would take me 15 years to pay off the debt at $900+ per month. I might as well just hop on Uncle Sam's magical IBR train and pay $250 a month and let the federal deficit fairy gobble up the $100k+ balance in 20 years. Hell, why not borrow more money and get another useless degree like an online MBA? At this point, should I elect IBR, it would essentially be free for me.

    The problem is, even people like me who could afford to pay my loans (albeit with significant sacrifices), now would be foolish to do so. WHY is the federal government allowing such brainless student loan policies to exist? I just don't understand.

    Get the federal government out of student lending and allow folks to dischrage student debt in bankrupcy... after all, IBR is essentially the same thing.

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    1. In England the entire cost of vocational training has to be paid either by the trainee barrister/solicitor's employers or out of their own pocket. No government grants are made available for this, and high street banks got out of the business of loaning money to would-be-lawyers ages ago after the rate of employment for graduates of vocational courses went south of 50%. Has this stopped fees and applications going up? No - why? Because the law schools themselves got into the loaning business - lending students the ~27000 US dollar cost of passing their year-long course at the healthy APR of 9.9%.

      http://charonqc.wordpress.com/2011/07/06/bpp-going-into-the-lending-business-with-investec-with-law-loan-for-students-interesting-development/

      Likely if the federal government gets out of the student loans business, law schools will simply come up with a similar arrangement for their attendees. Granted, so long as bankruptcy is allowed, it at least means they'll have some skin in the game, but it wouldn't exactly be pretty.

      Delete
    2. "law schools will simply come up with a similar arrangement for their attendees."

      Access Group was founded by law schools all the way back in the early 80s to add another source of funding for prospectives. The fact that the organization controlled by law schools would now be getting interest payments on loans that eventually could not be discharged in bankruptcy surely was just a coincidence.

      If the federal government got out, Access Group would just come roaring back.

      Delete
    3. FOARP,

      I'd be a little careful about holding the UK up as a shining light. There are vastly too many law degree courses and places and vastly too many people looking for training contracts.

      In fact I don't really know a country where law schools are not turning out more graduates than can get jobs as lawyers - including Japan (except that only about 2% of law graduates seem to even try to train as Bengoshi.)

      The one big difference is that in grant-aid education - that is to say the government pays directly, the state pays the full cost up-front. That tends to limit how much a law school can charge or how rich the rewards can be to a law professor. The US has managed to design a mess of a system, where the state backs the tuition, but refuses to do what the state otherwise would do and limit what it is prepared to pay, allowing law schools a "free market" to set tuition and academic pay.

      The US system is neither right-wing free market or left-wing statist, is is a concoction of the worst elements of each, i.e., state subsidy + free market gouging.

      Delete
    4. Regarding the British model, $27,000.00 of debt can be paid off with a much lower income than $150,000.00 of debt, so the consequences of unemployment as a lawyer are less severe. A less lucrative career would suffice to dig you out of the hole.

      Regarding school-funded loans, the fact that a debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy does not mean it will ever be repaid. The people running the schools know what the default rates are and there is no way they are going to risk serious money of their own. I went to law school in the early 1980s and tuition at private schools was only about $8,000.00. Much less of a gamble on its face and that's before factoring in that fewer people needed aid at that low price and that employment prospects were much better in those days, when big firms had two or more associates per partner.

      Delete
    5. MacK - I don't think the UK model is all that great. There's obviously something pretty wrong about people borrowing thousands of pounds from Kaplan/BPP/etc. which they then pay directly back to Kaplan/BPP/etc. at a high rate of interest to study a course that Kaplan/BPP/etc. knows will only give people a <40% chance of getting the job its supposed to qualify them for. The only thing at all it has to recommend it compared to the US is that the maximum about of debt it is possible for a graduate to get into is somewhat limited (at the very worstm, three year undergraduate at 9K quid a year borrowed form the student loan company at reasonable rates, a year's CPE at 9K, and 17K's worth of LPC/BPTC).

      Delete
  28. "... WHY is the federal government allowing such brainless student loan policies to exist?"

    Because if the true extent of student loan debtors who are unable to pay their monthly payments on time were revealed, it would be politically disastrous for the current administration, and not much better for the opposition.

    "Get the federal government out of student lending and allow folks to discharge student debt in bankruptcy... after all, IBR is essentially the same thing."

    I agree. I suspect: (i) you would see a stampede of people going to BK court (and not just JD holders, but a high number of JD holders, because every year, the bottom 50% of all law grads are the 'losers' who are supposed to not succeed), and (ii) the finances of higher ed. would collapse overnight.

    The only thing that makes sense to me is that IBR is just kicking the can down the road, with the hope that inflation and/or economic growth will make this go away by the next election.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How will school finances collapse if students can get bankruptcy? They already have the loan money.

      And if debt is discharge able after 10 years or so, actually more applicants are going to roll the dice.

      Perversely, I think bankruptcy protection will help the schools enrollment.

      Delete
    2. Because then the private lenders won't lend the money because they like being paid back?

      Delete
    3. @ 9:42-- Sorry if I wasn't clear.

      I wasn't considering a graduated bankruptcy provision like the ones that existed prior to 1998 for certain types of student debt.

      Conceivably, you could jigger the provisions one way or another.

      What I was thinking was that all student debt becomes dischargeable, the spigot of loan money stops immediately.

      I disagree that bankruptcy protection will help school enrollment, but a modified structure, like requiring 10 years of payment, or that the debtor be 10 years out of school, might lessen the sting.

      7:07

      Delete
    4. JP: there are few private loans outside of non-US citizens. It won't make any difference to the government, as they aren't getting paid anyway.

      Delete
  29. @8:25. The Dean's comments are misleading regarding applications. A friend who took the LSAT told me she recieved a letter from Duke waiving the application fee and heavily implied she would recieve a substanital (half or better) tuition break. She had no intention of applying there, but did so based on that letter. She has also recieved over 100 emails or letter granting fee waivers, so this is adding to the number of applications. He's not telling the whole story, which is no surprise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would be typical of a law school Dean to brag about the increase in applicants but fail to explain the reason applications have increased is attributable , at least in a significant part, to them increasing the number of see waivers.

      Instead he just gangs it out there like a fact that should impress people who are only looking at the surface, and who are willing to take him at his word.

      There isn't a person associated with any law school out there that I would believe anything involving numbers without detailed explanations.

      They have been lying so long and marketing themselves for so long that they are not capable of being completely honest.

      I hope the alumni stays on him about this and don't acceot his flub answers.

      Delete
  30. "Even the full tuition covers only about two-thirds of the cost of an education at Duke Law."

    78,000 per student x 650 full time students > 50M.

    Brooklyn Law School has almost twice the students with an expense budget of around 70-75M. And they're a stand-a-lone with no institutional support/shared services.

    Is Dean Levy going to admit that Duke is just horrendously bad at running a business, or does he seriously believe that the Duke Law Degree is worth every penny?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Full tuition is a little over 50k. The 78 figure comes from a few other fees (including health insurance) and cost of living. Obviously still too much, but it changes your numbers significantly.

      Delete
  31. Read Golden's book The Price of Admission, which was published six or seven years ago. It's about the way in which undergraduate institutions in particular favor the scions of the great and the good. An entire chapter is devoted to Duke's rise from hick backwater in North Carolina to élite institution in the space of a decade or so by catering to rich and prominent people who would share their money or reputation with Duke in exchange for the admission of their precious little dumb-dumbs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Duke is the only school I have ever heard of where students and fans of other schools in their conference (ACC) will actively cheer for whoever plays Duke, even teams outside the conference.

      Delete
    2. Duke really was originally built with a type of stone that weathers quickly - so important to get that olde Oxford/Cambridge look.

      Delete
    3. It has been my experience that Duke graduates don't get 'going away' parties when they leave their workplace. After they are out the door their former co-workers have epic beer and pizza celebrations - without them!

      Delete
    4. Dukist pigs!

      Duke is no more to blame for the scam than any other law school, and less to blame than most.

      Neutrals don't cheer for Duke's football opponents. In fact, a lot of people feel sorry for Duke football. Neutrals hate Duke basketball because it's so successful, not because they're outraged that Duke Law School tuition is so high.

      I suspect the above posts emanated from the TTT at Chapel Hill,to be honest.

      Delete
  32. @7:07 a.m., you hit the nail right on the head.

    If 10% of graduates are on IBR, 10% of graduates are not in default. If 20% of graduates are on IBR, 20% are not in default. It sweeps the student loan debt bomb under the rug nicely.

    I believe that IBR may have a more sinister side as well. Generation Y/the millenials (whatever the hell you want to call us) will have to support the baby boomers, many of whom have not put one red cent towards retirement, by continuing to pay for their healthcare, social security, etc. We will have to pay significantly more and get significantly less when the bill finally comes due for the boomers' self absorbtion and comsumption. How will the government keep us from revolting? Debtors are at the mercy of and controlled bytheir creditors (see Greece and Germany). If we are under the yoke of student loan debt/ibr, we will be much easier to control when the time comes to prop up boomers refusal to reduce their standard of living.

    Which gets me to 6:10. You are absolutely correct that IBR creates perverse incentives, but the reason why I am paying down my debt even though I am elgible for IBR is because of the above. I may be screwed anyway, but at least I won't personally be under that yoke. I have nothing but the deepest empathy and compassion for people who have no other choice, and am so thankful that I have the chance to be free. Fuck you, Feds. You will not control me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @8.38, I am reluctant to believe in conspiracy theories, and there are no conspiracies here I believe. This is purely the product of short-term thinking. In the short term, its in the government's interest to throw made-up money at higher education to keep voters happy, students to get a 3-year break from looking for work, and colleges to maximize their profit. Nobody is really thinking of the long term, when all these problems will fall due.

      Delete
  33. I graduated from a top 30 college in 2006 with a 3.72 GPA. Unfortunately, I didn't do well on the LSAT. So, I went to a TTT. Obviously, it was a bad decision. But, my law school loans are covered by a trust that I am a beneficiary of.

    I graduated in 2009. Not surprisingly, I did not (and still not) land a full-time legal job. I have been doing document review since 2010. Before I graduated, I had never heard of document review. As some of you know, it's mind-numbing, yet easy, work. In 2010, I only made 25k. In 2011, I made 50k. Last year, I made 60k. Unless one works on a project that lasts most of the year, gets incredibly lucky and goes from project to project with very little down time or (most unlikely) gets hired as a staff attorney at a big firm, it's unlikely that one will make more than 80k doing document review.

    Obviously, most of us didn't spend/take out loans of 200k for seven years of post high school education to hit a pay ceiling of 80k a year. When I was first exposed to document review, I was shocked by how many older attorneys were document reviewers. Although I just turned 29, I'm usually the youngest attorney on the projects.

    For those that are contemplating law school, I highly advise you to not go to law school. Unless you're going to attend a top 15 school or you're VERY confident that you'll get law review from a top 40 school, it just doesn't seem to be a good investment.

    As for me, I'm heading to Dallas on Sunday for a three-week document review project that pays 25 dollars an hour that pays 37.50 after 40 hours (not all projects pay ot). Long term, I'm thinking of becoming a public school teacher instead of pursuing a law career. Not surprisingly, my prospects for landing a full-time legal job are poor. So, I feel that I have a better chance of landing a full-time teaching job in one of the 560 school districts in my home state of NJ.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dread Pirate RobertsJanuary 25, 2013 at 10:45 AM

      Ouch; sorry for your situation. But thanks for taking the time to comment.

      What's your UG in, and how hard (or easy) will it be for you to become credentialed to teach?

      Delete
    2. "As for me, I'm heading to Dallas on Sunday for a three-week document review project that pays 25 dollars an hour that pays 37.50 after 40 hours (not all projects pay ot)."

      I'm pretty sure that this counts as a "win" these days.

      Delete
    3. As to your being the youngest attorney on doc review projects at age 29, Citibank and Hildebrandt have institutionalized age discrimination in law firms. Age discrimination against anyone who is not an equity partner a few years out is not only acceptable, but a good idea, according to their report. The report urges law firms to boot the older people from the law firms if they are not equity partners.

      Older non-partner lawyers are now the equivalent of Jews in the Third Reich or blacks to the Klan. Older non-equity partner lawyers are inefficient and material for the trash, no matter what. Older non-partner lawyers should not be hired or retained by any law firm worth its salt, no matter what, if you read this report.

      CITIBANK BELIEVES IN AGE DISCRIMINATION. WRITE TO CITIBANK'S BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND TELL THEM HOW CITIBANK'S RECOMMENDATIONS ARE INSTITUTIONALIZING AGE DISCRIMINATION IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION.

      GO CITIBANK- PROMOTE AGE DISCRIMINATION IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION! GO!GO!.

      Delete
    4. At least you don't have to repay loans. Imagine the stress you would be under if you owed that much money ?

      Delete
    5. That's not the only site of age-based discrimination. Older law students have trouble getting so much as an interview, never mind a job.

      Delete
    6. it took me two years to finally get a doc review project down in houston. By that time my solo practice had failed. Had to go to work for the fed govt as a clerk.

      Die, law schools, die.

      Delete
    7. @ dpr: No problem at all. I majored in classics/history. I'm probably going to be certified in English and Social studies. Frankly, the job prospects aren't great for non-math or science teaching gigs in NJ. But, it still seems like a better long-term solution then doing document review for the next 20 years.

      @JP: Well, I haven't worked at all this year. So, I had to take the somewhat drastic step of working on a project in Texas when I live in NJ (and I am licensed to practice in NY). I'm going to be able to save a lot of money, though, since I am staying at a friend's apartment.

      @ anonymous 6:38: I would be extremely stressed and pissed-off. I couldn't imagine paying 1000 a month in loans. I pay 167 a month, but I get a check at the beginning of each year that covers the monthly costs. I definitely recognize how fortunate I am in that regard.

      At the same time, if I didn't have my law school paid for, I would NOT have gone to law school. So my life might have turned out better in the long run, ha.

      @ anonymous 2:33: Hey, at least you got a full-time job. I would rather work as a clerk for the federal government than toil doing document review. Where do you work?


      Delete
  34. re "Even the full tuition covers only about two-thirds of the cost of an education at Duke Law."

    This is total crap!!

    With Medical Schools, the federal government matches each dollar the student pays in tuition via subsidies. You simply cannot train a doctor without there being a hospital and sick people nearby.

    With law school, all you have to do is pay the salary of the professors. You do not have to pay for any facility or special equipment.

    This is why there are no TTT Medical schools.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You also need dead people.

      I'm actually glad that law school doesn't require dead people to operate effectively.

      Delete
    2. Weekend At Bernie`s Night School Of LawJanuary 25, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      Our Motto: "People Are Just Dyin' To Get In".

      Delete
    3. Some of the profs might not actually be dead.....but how do you tell?

      Delete
  35. Dread Pirate RobertsJanuary 25, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    To the Anony Law Prof who post early this morning, thanks also for taking the time to share your views.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Want to get really irritated: remember that as a former federal judge who served more than ten years, Levi receives (in addition to whatever Duke pays him) his full judicial salary ($180,000 per year or so) for life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cite, please.

      Delete
    2. Not usually unless he was a Supreme Court judge. At age 65, a judge may retire at his current salary, or take senior status, after performing 15 years of active service as an Article III judge - thereafter the rule of 80 applies - age plus years of service. So for example a judge appointed at 50 can retire at 65 on full pension (65 + 15 = 80).

      Levi went to Harvard in 1968 so he was probably born in 1950 or thereabouts. He served as a Federal Judge until 2007 when he would have been 57 - after 17 years as a judge. He also was a US attorney. His pension entitlement is therefore governed by 28 USC § 371(b)(2) but he could probably could go back in say 2014 for a year or two and get the full pension under §271(e) - which I suspect he probably plans to do.

      Delete
  37. I'm curious why the scholly situation bothers the OP so much. I paid full price and well, that's just how it was. I don't donate to my LS in part because I didn't get a scholly and in part because I think they're charging too much but I just don't see the scholly thing as a big deal.

    ReplyDelete
  38. "as a result, the net average tuition at Duke Law, taking account of scholarship grants, has stayed fairly stable during that period at about $33,000 per year."

    Duke charges $50,750, so the average student is only paying 65% of the posted tuition.

    This needs to be emphasized. If you are paying full freight to go to law school, or receiving only a small scholarship, not only are you being ripped off, but the odds are very high that you are going to be in the bottom half of the class. Unless you are going to HYS, being in the bottom half of the class is **not** a good bet.

    If you aren't getting a big scholarship offer, the school thinks that you aren't going to do very well - but they will happily take your money anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also, this howler from the Duke Law School tuition page:

      "The legal education that Duke Law School offers is competitively priced."

      Delete
    2. Curious whether it's the nominal amount or the price differentiation among students that makes you feel it's a ripoff.

      Obviously the nominal amount is insanely high.

      Delete
    3. "Curious whether it's the nominal amount or the price differentiation among students that makes you feel it's a ripoff."

      The extent of price discrimination is interesting, particularly as it is clearly increasing. There probably is a limit to this strategy, but apparently the law schools haven't hit it yet.

      Duke should be required to disclose that the net average tuition collected is about $33,000 - so when Duke tells an given applicant that he will have to pay about $51,000, the applicant has a sense of what the average discount is. Truth in advertising.

      Delete
    4. Why? Car dealerships don't tell you the average price break people get on a car nor do many (any?) other places.

      Delete
    5. "Why? Car dealerships don't tell you the average price break people get on a car nor do many (any?) other places."

      LOL. Good analogy! One thing is that is sustaining Duke and other law schools is the tremendous residual respect Americans have for higher education.

      Once it dawns on people that modern law schools are less ethical than used car dealers (bad as a used car dealer is, he can't ruin you financially for life), the law school business model is going to take a huge, huge, hit, as the respect factor goes away.

      Having people generally view law schools as unscrupulous organizations trying to extract every last dollar they can from you (while covertly giving large discounts from posted tuition to most applicants) is not going to help their recruiting.

      Delete
  39. Duke tweeted about their increase in applications!! But the explanation on TLS is that duke has a part time program. This could be true.

    ReplyDelete
  40. To Lawprof and DJM:

    Brooklyn Law prof. says the answer to overpriced legal education is lower starting salaries:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lawrence-m-solan/pay-associates-less-a-nov_b_2527419.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just when you think a law professor can't say something even more stupid than has been said in the past.

      Delete
    2. We're doing a piss-poor job of training lawyers. Solution: Cut our graduates' salaries in half. Of course, we'll go right on charging the same amount, if not more, for our lousy teaching.

      Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: Law school is for everyone!

      Delete
    3. Memo to Professor Solan-- the law firms don't want to hire less, per se. More importantly-- the law firms don't want to hire YOUR students, and that's even more true now that the third and fourth tiers are admitting anyone with a pulse.

      Delete
    4. He needs to start a blog.

      Delete
    5. He might be onto something. He's only talking about those handful of people who go straight into BigLaw after Law School. That this comparatively tiny number of people can earn $150k+ straight after school has been used as an excuse by law schools across the board to jack up their tuitions to absurd numbers.

      This practice of paying first year associates so much probably isn't healthy, as some other posts here have pointed out. You get a handful of graduates, work them like slaves for a couple years until they burn out, get promoted or get fired, then you get the next lot in. It might be more sustainable to pay them less, at least at first.

      Delete
    6. Fine, but then there would be essentially no debt-laden graduate at all with the income to support the debt. Which proves, yet again, that law school is simply too expensive.

      Delete
    7. How could it possibly be more sustainable to pay first years less? The only person that benefits are the partners at the firms. You don't seem to understand how the leverage model works. You have to think of the hours too- a 1st year has 2 80,000 a year jobs.

      At any rate, starting salaries are declining because of the career associates in places like Dayton, Ohio.

      If firms drop first year salaries, truly only the very wealthy will go to law school. The only way most people justify to themselves taking in huge debt for law schoos is by calculating a frugal budget on a biglaw salary while repaying loans. Virtually no one will go to law school who doesn't have a way to pay for it without loans.

      So maybe that would be a great thing?


      Delete
    8. It would be a good thing if the special snowflake law students didn't have the excuse that they would be the one to get that $150k+ biglaw job straight out of school, so of course its okay to take on that much debt or more.

      Meant that first years should be paid less, but also have a much lighter work load. Would also mean more jobs for more people. I don't suppose that would be too popular though.

      Delete
  41. "we'll go right on charging the same amount, if not more, for our lousy teaching."

    Hey, Brooklyn Law only charges $49,976! Clearly there is no need to reduce that!

    ReplyDelete
  42. 2:31 pm:

    18 USC 371(c). Slight correction: federal judges need 15 years of service (Levi satisfies that requirement)by age 65 to get full pay. At age 70, they only need 10 years of active service for full pay for life. Not a bad deal.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Correction:

    28 USC 371(c), although it's a funny typo. Full pay for life with only ten years of service should be criminal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With frugality like this it's amazing the US is 80 gazillion dollars in debt.

      Delete
  44. 82 law schools are seeing a decline of 30% or more for applicants in this cycle according to LSAC. All law schools but four are seeing a decline this cycle. It is getting really ugly.

    http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202585810784&Avoiding_law_school_in_droves

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLv6aiwTkqI

      Delete
    2. That's funny- didnt Duke say they were one of 7 schools with increases?

      I wonder why Duke is up. The increased fee waivers along with the part time option are explanations.

      Delete
    3. Maybe Duke just happens to be favorably situated. People who two or three years ago would have been happy with an Iowa are now hoping for a Duke, and people with their eye on a Columbia are using the Dukes as safety schools. In other words, I'm speculating that the top of the third tier (Duke, Cornell, and so on) is getting especial interest from both the upper and the lower ends.

      Delete
    4. People need to keep in mind the number of applications a particular school isn't that relevant. I think GULC had more applications than any school last year and I think their median LSAT fell by one point. It's really about how a school's enrollment and numbers change.

      Delete
    5. Jerome Organ?

      Delete
    6. Duke isn't third tier in terms of hiring. I think in that system that only exists inside your mind, duke Would be fourth tier, below MVP.

      HYS
      CCN
      MYP
      All other T 14 except GULC
      GULC

      Delete
    7. Also, the number of applicants is very important. This drop shows that people are getting the message about employment prospects, just not enough of them have.

      I think no one should go to law school this year, unless they are at YS or possibly H- because they aren't getting better than that or unless they are going for free in a low cost of living area or they have a named scholarship at CCN.

      Delete
  45. http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202585130033&Law_school_twoyear_option_intrigues_New_Yorks_top_judge

    "Some legal educators warned that the two-year option would create a stratified bar, with two-year students going on to serve lower-income clients and the three-year group taking higher-paying law firm jobs."

    ReplyDelete
  46. I don't know why I can't reply to the little discussion on the UK model, but does anyone know how much the legal market in Canada stinks (or not) and how silly (or not) it might be to get an apparently low-priced LLM at UBC, transition that into some sort of residency, and try to reinvent oneself in Canada? Am in a neighboring state and nothing much to lose financially.

    ReplyDelete
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