Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Historic levels

Law schools are facing the second straight year of plummeting applications. Yet colleagues around the country have assured me that there's nothing to worry about because those applications are simply returning to "historic levels." Apparently we're going back to 2002, or maybe 2000.

Except that we're not. According to the Law School Admission Council, about 68,000 students applied for spots in this fall's entering class. Almost half way through the current admission cycle, it looks like about 53,000 students will apply for the fall 2013 class. When did law schools last see that number of applicants?

Not in any year since 1983, the earliest year for which I can find data. For that fall, ABA-accredited law schools chose among 71,755 applicants--and there were only 173 accredited schools that year. The lowest number of applicants recorded during the last thirty years was in 1985, when only 60,338 people competed for 40,796 spots. At this point in the admission cycle, it's hard to believe that applicants for fall 2013 will top 60,000--or even 55,000. 

So what year are we returning to? I hope we're not going back further than 1955, the year I was born. I would find that very confusing. And while we're indulging this fantasy that applicant numbers are merely "re-setting" or "returning to historical levels," let's remember that no one is talking about re-setting tuition to those earlier levels.

When 60,338 people applied to law school in fall 1985, the median tuition at a private school was $7,385. Median in-state tuition at public law schools was just $1,792. If those figures had risen with inflation, they would be $15,801 at private schools today and $3,834 at public ones. Instead, the median sticker price at private schools is two-and-a-half times as high, while it's five times higher at public institutions. 

Now here's the real kicker: NALP has just published graphs showing that the median reported salary for full-time entry level jobs (those held nine months after graduation) has fallen back to 1985 levels when adjusted for inflation. That figure, of course, is for graduates who were lucky enough to land full-time jobs; just 69.8% of 2011 grads reported a full-time job of any kind. The other 30% may have been worse off than if they'd time traveled back to 1985.( Update: [LP]  Only a little more than half of the 69.8 2011 grads who were reported to have full-time jobs had reported salaries.)

So do the math. In constant dollars, law school costs two-and-a-half to five times more than it did in 1985. Yet the degree offers a 1985-level starting salary for the average graduate--if that graduate can find a full-time job. How many people will apply for that deal?

Updated: Here is a link to applicant volume dating back to 1983. These are scanned from a hard-copy ABA-LSAC Guide.

132 comments:

  1. FROST; Robert FrostJanuary 15, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    Frost, ya sleeping beeyotchayes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Unemployed NortheasternJanuary 15, 2013 at 10:49 PM

    Hmmm, I probably was more employable as a small child in 1985 than I am as a licensed attorney today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only if you lived in India, making Bidi cigarettes....

      Delete
  3. FROST; Robert FrostJanuary 15, 2013 at 10:53 PM

    When did you graduate, by the way?

    Wondering also since you show up here and on a number of the other relevant blogs frequently, what do you think of Bernie's fence-sitting series ("What matters most" parts 1-2-3) over at the lounge?

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    Replies
    1. Unemployed NortheasternJanuary 16, 2013 at 8:09 AM

      A few years ago now. Let's broadly call it in/around/during the recession. Had a few very good job opportunities, but was Lathamed (again speaking in broad terms). Went to a NESCAC for undergrad, but not one of the ones that still has career services (so not Williams or Amherst). That's about as much detail as I like to get into.

      Anytime a law prof comes around to acknowledging reality, it is a very good thing. I like to think that my exchanges with Orin Kerr over on the Volokh Conspiracy may have had some small role in his acknowledgment that many, many of us are financially devastated by law school.

      Anyways, I spend most of my time on sites that have a disqus system, not because I like disqus but because I have this pseudonym for them and don't feel like juggling and checking multiple accounts. So I'm mostly over on The Atlantic and the higher ed sites the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed. Both of which I would highly recommend to ITLSS readers. Not only are they informative and with highly capable commenting communities (and sport frequent coverage of the ills in law school), but they have really opened my eyes to how deep higher ed's issues are. The things I could tell you about the financing schemes of higher ed, the massive self-interest among various players, the starvation wages of the 70% of college profs who are adjuncts, and so forth... It would make you queasy. Higher ed writ large has buried its grads and itself in an ocean of debt, an entirely avoidable bubble that basically every other nation on Earth has avoided, just in time for the mass offshoring of white collar labor.

      Delete
    2. He rarely says anything substantive.

      Delete
    3. FROST; Robert FrostJanuary 16, 2013 at 11:07 AM

      Unemployed Northeastern, thank you for returning and for replying.

      I think Orin is coming along over the last 18 months or so. (But then sometimes he slips back into "la-la-la-I-don't-want-to-think-bad-things" land.)

      Delete
  4. FROST; Robert FrostJanuary 15, 2013 at 10:59 PM

    Sorry, these are the 3 posts I meant.

    http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2012/11/what-matters-most-in-legal-ed-these-days.html

    http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2012/11/more-on-what-matters-most-or-paging-dr-pangloss.html


    http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2013/01/still-more-on-what-matters-most-or-a-guided-tour-of-pandaemonium.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You didn't ask me, but I think "Bernie"'s fence sitting is a welcome contribution, particularly in the comment sections of those three posts you link to.

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    2. It started off good. Oversupply really is "What Matters Most," although cost is a very close second. Unfortunately, in his latest post in the series he creates, and attacks, a ridiculous straw man.

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    3. I didn't read the liks. But what matters most is decades of lies about employment . Law schools have created such a distorted view of the earning potential of a law degree that it will take years of hard work for the truth to be accepted.

      Delete
    4. All of those words could have been replaced by "We admit too many students." But the posts did expose Steven Diamond, for what that's worth. And I agree completely with 2:26 above that Bernie is all about demolishing straw men and "Aunt Sally" as we say in the UK.

      Delete
  5. Oh DMJ you are such a hypocrite for discussing real numbers. It's back to Leiter Reports for me. I need some of that Maurice Leiter poetry.

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  6. Great Scott! Back to November 5, 1985?

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  7. Great post and so true!

    The supposed "historic" levels of applications were simply the product of misinformation. You know you have an awful business model when your business fails because people learn the truth.

    Btw, from those (Class of 2011) 69% "employed" grads, I bet 50% of those are probably barely scraping by. What a fraud!!

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  8. The Internet has been a great truth revealer. When thousands of individuals with no financial interest in your tuition dollars offer the straight dope on the scam, it's a highly persuasive warning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A big part of the reason that the scam perpetuated in the past is that the scammed victims (50% of all law grads) were too ashamed of their "failure" to speak up.

      Because of the internet, no more.

      Delete
  9. I've asked before, but DJM, is there anyway to get the attention of current applicants? The ones who think this year is a golden opportunity for them and that declining class sizes means they will have a better shot at a job?

    I truly dont understand where this massive disconnect comes from. It's as if the smart people here the rumblings of the volcano as a warning and are leaving Pompeii while the rest feel like it is a great omen from the gods so they stay behind to prepare a celebration.

    From what I've seen, read here on the BLS numbers ( which someone else posted on TLS that they don't believe could be possibly true) and continuing string of reports from Citibank about the drop and projected sustained drop in biglaw profits- I don't understand why a single person would borrow money to go to law school this year.

    How can these students know the facts and still refuse to believe it? I know that the word is seeping out slowly, but no one who sees the data can possibly feel this is a good year to borrow tens of thousands of dollars to start law school.

    Why don't you and Lawprof come out and say it: don't go this year. Work as hard as you can to get another career. Law school will still be there next year and the year after. It isn't as if the smart money with informed and connected families are going to be moving back into law anytime soon.

    Chances will only be better next year, if they must look at it this way.

    So Lawprof and DJM: how do you get people to understand the data that is now available to them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://abovethelaw.com/2013/01/biglaw-welcome-to-the-new-normal-which-is-actually-like-the-old-normal/

      The article from ATL on the citi report which shows growth in biglaw as nonexistent for the next year.

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    2. Also, could you maybe do a new post refreshing and explaining the BLS numbers again? Break it down into how many job openings next year- and what those job openings ate?

      Delete
    3. http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/CitiHildebrandt2013ClientAdvisory.pdf


      Citi report. Read it. Don't go to law school. ( they predict even lower levels of associate hiring.)

      Delete
  10. In 1985, the cost to send a letter was 22 cents. Today, it's 45 cents. More than double.

    In 1985, a gallon of gasoline was about $1.20. Today, it's $3.50. Almost triple.

    In 1985, Minimum wage was $3.35 per hour. Today, it's $7.25.

    But the starting salary for a law school graduate is the same as it was in 1985? That's what I call progress.

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    Replies
    1. No. Same level in constant inflation adjusted dollars.

      Delete
    2. I graduated in 2011, and still no job. What starting salary are you referring to?

      Delete
  11. One more question: how can NALP produce a figure for entry level salaries that ignores the $0,000 earned by a huge percentage of grads ? Shouldn't the zero be included as well to give the true number of what grads are making nine months after graduating?

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    Replies
    1. This has also bothered me about the numbers.

      All of those failed "lawyers" who ended up working at Starbucks or Target, are their wages being counted as $0 since they are not lawyers? Or are they counted at their $10 hourly rate? or are they ignored entirely?

      Delete
  12. Anon 2:14,

    How do we get word out that law school is a bad idea?

    Word is out, although many still haven't heard (avg person who think JD = ticket to riches) or are ignoring it (many 0Ls).

    Try going to top-law-schools forums. But many don't listen. Tell them the truth and they'll reply with a captioned photo of a cat.

    Poor kids are preparing to commit financial suicide as they swap captioned cat photos and talk about how awesome the cookie truck outside their TTT will be. They don't want to hear truth. Little do they know that the cookie truck driver will have a better salary than they will.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used to post on TLS. I suppose I could go back. I thought a more authoritative post on this blog explaining why this drop in applicants is due to people starting to understand the scam might help.

      I think we need to spell it out in step by step fashion.

      Highest scorers on LSATs are not attending - this is because they know law is not a career that will repay the cost to attend, much less provide a great future.

      Why can't others see the truth ? There is still so much denial in the applicant group. Truly outside of possibly Yale , because it is so small, there is no reason to go this year. Even Yale might let you defer if you can come up with a solid reason.

      I haven't seen a compelling argument from anyone in favor of going to law school now. I see lots of reasons to try other careers first.

      Here is the conventional wisdom among those at the top: no one goes to law school to get rich.

      I think it truly is the biglaw salary numbers that entice people to take the plunge- they think that justifies being in massive debt and living like a spartan while you pay it down.

      Delete
    2. TLS has been largely pro-reform for a while now. Try to start a thread in the What are my chances or Choosing a Law School forum and you'll be blasted with 6-7 "retake" responses. The naivete comes from the new posters who have just signed up and are operating under the common wisdom- some of them respond well to the criticism, others get defensive and stubborn.

      What we really need to do is get the word out to the people who are not even doing online research, but are getting their law school admissions advice from UG counselors, their parents and their parents' friends. Maybe an advice packet for college law school counselors or seminars that directly take place on college campuses.

      Delete
    3. There are plenty of folks on TLS who are gung-ho about retaking just to attend a T14 at sticker, but for a respectable number of users they're retaking to get $$$ at a T14. There's always a possibility they will miss out on BigLaw/BigGov/BigPI, but even if they do, they're not saddled by 300k in debt....

      Delete
  13. DJM : maybe your colleagues should read the Citi report too? It starkly says that the boom of 2001-2007 is never coming back. But if you redefine normal interns of basically flat growth, the future is bright!

    Law schools have to face that this is the beginning of the new normal for them. The continuing exposure of their lies, the unemployed grads from even top schools speaking out about the job market and the prediction of a huge oversupply means that soon, very soon, the vast majority of applicants will avoid law school and the entire scam.

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  14. Law school = humble service job.

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  15. I think there is a point to be drawn from DJM's posting that she missed. Law schools and the profession of law professor (and dean) have enjoyed a golden era that has run for 50 years or more - of growing salaries, rising tuition, new schools opening at a rate of 1 or 2 a year (or even 3-4.) This is an industry that has never experienced a contraction in the working or adult lifetimes of all of its denizens. Every other industry I can think of, even government - has.

    Almost any normal person can see that the law school industry has a capacity and a cost problem - the industry has twice as much capacity as the market needs - and an productivity/cost crisis - it charges about twice what its product is worth. Solving those problems will mean closing ultimately about 100 law schools (i.e., half) and raising productivity - lowering cost at the remainder. The problem is that raising productivity in this context means getting law professors to take less pay and work harder for it - translation, fewer professors at the remaining schools on smaller salaries.

    To a group who have never seen their industry shrink or even cut costs the idea seems impossible. But the numbers point that way - law schools will have to close until there are about 20-25,000 JDs in the US a year and tuition in real terms needs to fall by 50% - that means 203 accredited schools (leaving out the 3 military oddities) needs to shrink to say 103 and those schools need to shrink faculty cost until that comes into line.

    There are 11-12,000 law professors or thereabouts (I seem to recall) - an average of 60 per school. I think that in a decade or two that will have shrunk to 4-6,000.

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    Replies
    1. http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2012/05/half-as-many-students-at-half-price.html

      Delete
    2. The number of grads needs to be much less than 20,000 to 25,000. A substantial percentage of the experienced classes even at top law schools do not have full time permanent JD required jobs. These lawyers need to be counted in the quotas that should be imposed on law school class size. Right now, because many top law schools rely on associate, clerk and government positions that are not career positions, their 9 month employment statistics vastly overstate the number of full time permanent positions where it is possible to work until retirement. There is a glut of experienced lawyers in each practice area. The 900,000 unemployed lawyers as well as their experiece levels need to be taken into account in setting class sizes. If there are only 8,500 full time permanent legal jobs by the time we get to the class of 1980, graduating 25,000 lawyers a year is much too many unless law schools are training the unemployed.

      Delete
    3. Don't underestimate the foolishness of 0Ls.

      There are still plenty of people hoping to get in to a terrible school employment-wise like GWU , UVa and Michigan. People still refuse to see the truth of these schools- though it has been plainly and repeatedly pointed out over the past year.

      There are still plenty of people willing to move across country to a school where they have no ties based on some marketing lies about programs and USNews rankings.

      We have a long way to go before 0Ls really understand. I'm not sure schools will be closing all that fast.

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    4. "people hoping to get in to a terrible school employment-wise like GWU , UVa and Michigan"

      Ha-ha, nice trolling, Trollie!

      Delete
    5. It is not trolling. These may be top law schools, but they are graduating many unemployed lawyers even at the 9-month mark. The employment statistics are much worse for older law school classes who do not qualify for associate positions, clerkships or government programs for new grads because they have too much experience. My class at Columbia Law School has few people who have full-time permanent legal jobs and it has been that way for about 10 years.

      Delete
    6. "It is not trolling. These may be top law schools, but they are graduating many unemployed lawyers even at the 9-month mark."

      LST would beg to differ. Look at UVa - they give it an "un/under-employed" score of 3%.

      In what insano world does that translate into "a terrible school, employment-wise"?

      GMAFB. Let's not shred any chance at credibility by claiming that UVa has "terrible" employment outcomes.

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    7. Just to be clear, I do not meet the qualifications for any legal job in my practice area. The reason is that I have too much experience.

      ALL of the open jobs in my practice area in the New York metropolitan area have experience caps of 8 years or less. I have much more experience than that. Hence I do not qualify for any legal job in my practice area.

      I guess I can start all over again in a BA required job if anyone will hire me or become a solo in an area that is not very much in demand. The other options are retail and cleaning person. This is after years of BigLaw experience.

      Oh yes, there are a few jobs in my practice area that will consider me with a minimum amount of business. I cannot get that business at any reasonable billing rate without a platform - a job or even website of a firm I am on.

      I can thank the ABA for my top top schools (all Ivy League) that have led me to zero income and unemployment.

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    8. What is your practice area?

      Delete
    9. By terrible I was referring to the 20% of the class hired by the school. If that seems like a good outcome for a grad with sticker debt from a top school to you, then we disagree.

      When a school has to hire one out of every five grads on a pittance salary ( compared to what they expected as 0Ls) and six figures of debt, I definitely consider that a terrible outcome.

      Just what do you think will happen to all those grads over the next few years of their careers?

      And that doesn't include those grads who couldn't even get school funded fellowship jobs-

      If we add in your 3 % we are at almost a quarter of the class graduating unemployed.

      Like I said, terrible employment outcome.

      I don't troll. I don't have to- just telling the truth should be enough. Or at least a start.

      Delete
    10. 7:44 If Columbia has terrible employment statistics, especially for the experienced classes, UVa's are worse. Columbia has the advantage of being the highest rated school in the metropolitan area with the most legal jobs. UVa is less highly rated, but more importantly, is in Charlottesville, which is not a hotbed of legal work. Once you move to Atlanta or other major southern cities, there are other law schools (Emory is much more local in Atlanta) and other top law schools whose grads are competing with UVa grads. In an oversaturated market, it is easy to see why Columbia would have much better results than UVa. Even Columbia, though has flooded the market with its law grads. Many Columbia grads are unemployed.

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    11. Sorry- the above was in response to the objection to my including UVa in that list of schools that have terrible employment outcomes.

      I guess if you want to work for a school, UVa is the top choice!

      Delete
    12. Unfortunately, I cannot disclose my practice area. It may identify me.

      I can say though that many of my verty talented top school former BigLaw partners for just a few months in general corporate have not fared better than me. They had superimpressive records, but the business demanded by the law firms to hold onto a job in corporate and securities is often not there. They came flying out of their Biglaw partnerships into unemployment.

      This is a problem of oversaturation and a second problem of an up or out system in most firms of 10 plus lawyers that does not work in an oversatured market. It lands many lawyers with the best records in unemployment for years.

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    13. "I cannot disclose my practice area. It may identify me."

      LOL, LOL, LOL, riiiight.

      Delete
    14. Sorry for the typos. I am trying to get work done, but also to warn people with top records like mine that law is a very risky endeavor. I would have never in a million years gone to law school if I had read this blog. I was a strong math and science student and graduated from one of the highest ranked colleges in the country (read Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford) with honors and high test scores. I could have done anything. Now I am unemployed and have been in temporary work with long periods of unemployment between for 10 years. Law school was a big mistake. Part of my problem is a declining practice area, but in a better world, it would be possible to switch practice areas. In my world, it is not. The jobs are not there.

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    15. 8:04 You can bet it is a small practice area. In terms of jobs that do not require less than 8 years of experience in the New York area, there are about 3 job openings a year. The major law firms are adding an indeterminate number of people each year. One firm alone added 4 people in New York City at the entry level in the last two years. The numbers do not work. There are not experienced jobs to go to.

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    16. "I was a strong math and science student and graduated from one of the highest ranked colleges in the country ... I could have done anything. Now I am unemployed and have been in temporary work with long periods of unemployment between for 10 years. Law school was a big mistake. Part of my problem is a declining practice area, but in a better world, it would be possible to switch practice areas. "

      http://www.uspto.gov/ip/boards/oed/grb.pdf

      Delete
    17. Also, read this / ask questionsJanuary 16, 2013 at 8:21 AM

      ""I was a strong math and science student and graduated from one of the highest ranked colleges in the country"

      http://www.intelproplaw.com/ip_forum/index.php/board,22.0.html

      (And note I am 8:04, and I apologize to you for my sarcasm. Best.)

      Delete
    18. MacK, I agree--that was actually the point of my NASA/A&P post a few weeks ago. Law schools have grown so steadily over the last thirty years that too many faculty believe they are infallible. I know faculty who still believe that everyone wants to go to law school and that everyone who graduates from law school ultimately finds a personally and financially rewarding career. This is willful blindness--and incredibly damaging to our students and alumni--but I'm amazed at the extent to which the beliefs persist.

      Delete
    19. Just to be clear, x large law firm hires 40 first year associates. The firm needs to find spots for these associates in a practice area where there is some need for an additional lawyer. If the area is not growing, the only way to hire this new lawyer and keep him/her busy is to force another associate at the firm to leave.

      This has been going on for years. The problem is that many people are leaving BigLaw firms without jobs and many other are leaving with jobs that last a short time. It is everything from business generation requirements in law firms that are taking on these experienced lawyers to strict "fit" requirements in house that turn the department into a revolving door for more experienced lawyers. Lawyers are going to fictional jobs that end up with the lawyer out on the street after working for a few years.

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    20. 8:21 and 8:18 My declining practice area is not IP. There are unfortunately many oversaturated practice areas with large numbers of unemployed lawyers from top schools with Biglaw records trying to find work.

      The point was that as a 0L I did not pursue math or science, which I was very good at, because I thought law would at least offer the ability to get some type of real legal job. I dropped continuing with math and science to go to law school, ending up largely unemployed or in temporary work for a substantial percentage of my career. The by line for every law firm in my area is that it would not be fair to our associates to hire you because you are experienced.

      Delete
    21. Yeah, hubris plain and simple MacK. Law was regarded as recession-proof. Good times or bad, demand for law degrees could only go up. In retrospect it looks like the surge in applicants around 2008 was a one-off, but at the time law schools treated it as the new normal and raised their places, tuition and spending recklessly.

      Delete
  16. Somewhat off topic. One impact I realized at work yesterday of not making ANY money as a lawyer is that i have no flipping idea how to answer certain (very elemental) questions outside of my practice area regarding such subjects as tax and real estate.. if you only file a 1040EZ and have zero likeihood of home purchase...it's all foreign. A state of prolonged adolescence. My parents (successful boomer lawyers) can answer tons of sort of life-useful questions just from being basically higher-income. So I guess this state of affairs leaves me as a great fit to help people with their crummy child protective act questions, debt default issues(because they don't read their mail), etc.... which is what I do. Horrible.

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    Replies
    1. a. Sorry to hear of your sitch. Do you care to share your story a little more? I.e., LS and timeframe of graduation?

      b. Just because you don't do those sorts of things at work or for yourself doesn't mean you can't learn the answers (wait - this is NOT a criticism just a comment). I practice an oddball area of law where I'm basically ignorant of many of those "life's little questions" you mention. I got tired of the incredulous looks when I'd have to answer "I don't have a clew" to the most common of these, so I actually kept track of the repeaters and learned enough about them to be able to say, "well, in general, XYZ, but you really should go here (ABC) for further details...".

      Delete
    2. @7:44
      Here is a pro tip: when you go to LST be sure to click on the large red asterisk next to the employment number.

      It will tell you that up to 17% of the employment figure is from jobs working for UVa.

      Make sure you check this number for all the schools you want to attend.

      Delete
    3. ^^^ You appear to be lost.

      Delete
  17. When we look at the number of enrolled students required to sustain the current number of law schools--or to sustain any law school individually--do we assume that tuition levels are set somewhat independently of enrollment numbers? For instance, if a law school only enrolled 100 students instead of 150, what would stop the school from setting tuition at a comparable increase to offset the 1/3 decrease in expected enrollment? Isn't tuition for September 2013 set before May 2013 when most schools have an idea of projected enrollment? If a student has already committed to going to a school and taking on debt to finance it, would an increase of $3,000 per semester change his/her mind? It would probably seem like a drop in the bucket. $42k and $45k seem like very similar numbers when you are looking at them through the eyes of a 22 year old. I don't know if decreased applications will really change much for the good--prices may just get more expensive for the remaining students who enroll if tuition just increases to offset the loss.

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    Replies
    1. What you mention could happen. But an easier/slicker/more pernicious way to do it is to just make the scholly stips tougher to meet.

      I.e., entice as many as possible through schollies (so the 1L class is as big as possible), but make those schollies really hard to hold onto (must make section's top 1/3, etc.) and section stack like crazy, too.

      Sunk cost fallacy will keep the vast majority of them there after that. Particularly when you figure it's the smartest of the bunch who MEET the stips, and the less gifted thinkers who lose the scholly.

      Delete
    2. Please don't fall into the fallacy of assuming that law school grades, based on one exam subject to a forced curve, show who is the smartest.

      All grades show is who wrote the exam the prof liked the most and all of TLS knows it.

      Everyone knows the point is to study to answer the exam the way the prof wants it answered. No one claims they are smarter than their classmates based on a handful of grades.

      Delete
    3. I think students are getting smarter about the cost of law school. It would be suicidal for a school to raise tuition at this time. Though it is true that law schools tend to increase cost in the face of drastically reduced demand.

      As DJM says, the law school faculty and deans remain grossly and unforgivably out of touch. It reminds me of what it must have been like at Versailles before the revolution.

      Delete
    4. "Please don't fall into the fallacy of assuming that law school grades, based on one exam subject to a forced curve, show who is the smartest."


      I'm sorry, but on average it is not a "fallacy".

      Are there some outliers?

      Do some of the very smartest tank first semester? Sure. A few.

      And do some of the dumbest fly high first semester? Sure. A (very) few.

      But on average, the brightest kids ended up on top.

      And "all of TLS knows it"? LOL, as if that's relevant. Almost expected you to follow that sentence with, "So There!".

      What are you, anyway, like a 21 year old 0L?

      Or someone who got butthurt when s/he found out s/he wasn't nearly as smart as his/her classmates?

      Delete
  18. But..but..but..nothing is changing, no schools will close, blogs haven't done anything, blah blah blah.

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  19. Law School Is Not Becoming Less Popular!

    It's Just That Law School's Appeal Is Becoming More Selective!

    ReplyDelete
  20. FROST; Robert FrostJanuary 16, 2013 at 6:53 AM

    Commenter Stitch upthread at 1:36 said something that caught my attention as a succinct truism:

    "You know you have an awful business model when your business fails because people learn the truth."

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  21. Marty: The last time Tap toured America, they where, uh, booked into 10,000 seat arenas, and 15,000 seat venues, and it seems that now, on their current tour they're being booked into 1,200 seat arenas, 1,500 seat arenas, and uh I was just wondering, does this mean uh...the popularity of the group is waning?

    Ian: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no...no, no, not at all. I, I, I just think that the.. uh.. their appeal is becoming more selective.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Wisdom on the topic from Yogi Berra:

    No one goes to law school anymore, the law schools are too crowded.

    When a law school comes to a fork in the road, take it.

    Law schools need to be very careful if they do not know where they are going, because they may not get there.

    The future for law school ain't what it used to be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't go to law school this year.

      Delete
  23. FROST; Robert FrostJanuary 16, 2013 at 7:34 AM

    Deej asks, "How many people will apply for that deal?"

    Probably about 55,000 this year's cycle.

    Sad, neh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And the lucky ones are the applicants who get denied, though they don't know it yet.

      Delete
    2. FROST; Robert FrostJanuary 16, 2013 at 8:15 AM

      @ 8:01 - "denied"?

      What's that?

      NESL, FLCoastal, Touro, the Thomases (Cooley & Jeff), SULC, TexSouth, Charlotte, FAMU, Phoenix - they ain't denying anyone.

      2.5 or 2.6 GPA? Hey, no problemo, dude, just give us that check!

      30th percentile LSAT? Hey, no problemo, dude, just give us that check!

      Delete
    3. Forget about the thirtieth percentile. People a lot lower than that are admitted to Université de Toilette.

      Delete
  24. All of those failed "lawyers" who ended up working at Starbucks or Target, are their wages being counted as $0 since they are not lawyers? Or are they counted at their $10 hourly rate? or are they ignored entirely?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Employed in non-professional position. Salary not reported.

      Delete
    2. So the wages, which are clearly lower for Starbucks or Target, does not bring down the average or median of reported "lawyer" salaries.

      This seems like a critical missing element of the numbers.

      If 20% to 40% of law grads are ending up with $10 per hour retail or food service jobs, shouldn't those numbers in some way be included in the calculations?

      Delete
  25. Oops my phone and my mistake. Sorry. I'm not going to repost this above. Maybe the person who thinks UVa has 97% employment will be smart enough to read all the comments. We can but hope that people actually learn to use LST if they are going to cite the numbers.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Remain calm!!!!!!!!! There's no oversupply of lawyers. Law school is still a great investment.

    Dean Mitchell
    Case Western Reserve University School of Law

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I almost have sympathy for Mitchell. He's no dummy. He is the head of a private university in a third-tier, midwest city still in its decline. If we had a pool to guess which schools will die, I suppose that THomas Jefferson would be the first pick. But the Case Western Reserve would be high on the list. Dean Mitchell probably correctly believes that he's fighting for the very existence of his law school. None of that justifies fraud. But it makes the fraud understandable.

      Delete
    2. Also the low reputation of Case law pulls down the reputation of the entire school. I'm sure the medical school could use the space well.

      Delete
  27. Does anyone truly beleve that law schools are going to wake up one day and decide to slash tuition by $5K or $10K? I am talking about the T-14, not the other TTT's.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With IBR/PAYE it makes no sense. You'd only be saving the taxpayer money, not the student.

      Delete
  28. Check out the University of Chicago’s Professor Henderson’s response to Chris Fletcher’s A Message to Aspiring Lawyers: Caveat Emptor. He criticizes Fletcher for failing to take into account… surprise… the versatility of the JD. He then seemingly brags about how law school prepared one of his students to sell ski resort tickets and even suggests a better moniker for law school would be “leader school.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324374004578219731853028120.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This looks like the same Todd Henderson who was whining about 2 years ago because he wasn't "rich" with a household income of 400k+ and shouldn't be paying more in taxes b/c it would cut into his ability to live like an upper class family-man worker bee.

      Delete
  29. LP, awesome job at the panel!

    Your criticism of GeorgetownProf was hilarious!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I first tuned in I thought "holy shit, Jack Marshall is on this panel?"

      But agreed, very well done LawProf.

      Delete
    2. Why the hell is Jack Marshall on a panel of anything except The All-Charlatans Committee?

      Delete
    3. What panel is this? Is there a link? Thanks

      Delete
    4. There was a luncheon presentation by Brian Tamanaha on his book at Cato this morning that was streamed. I'm hoping they put it up on youtube or on their site.

      I don't remember seeing Jack Marshall but I definitely recognized Campos.

      Delete
    5. Jack Marshall wasn't on this panel (he only participates in Ethics Sing-a-Longs). One of the others on the panel was a bald guy with glasses, Neal McCluskey, not Marshall. Campos and Tamanaha would have brought Jackass to tears had he been a part of this.

      Delete
  30. With regard to the Citibank report I linked to earlier. If Lawprof isn't inclined to do a post on it, I just want to point out the following recommendations:

    Use cheaper associates for work as orrick and wilmer hale

    Use overseas work for doc rev, etc

    Keep associate classes small

    Consider changing overall structure of firm as the leverage Cravath model won't work any more

    ----
    All of these have been discussed on this blog at various points in time. This is the first time I've seen the bankers and consultants to big law firms strongly advocating these changes.

    I'm thinking OCI next year is going to be a decline from the past two years and that there will be no offers at more firms. The competition for the top of the top will remain, but the people actually getting biglaw is going to decline.


    So, why is anyone wanting to go to law school?

    ReplyDelete
  31. There was always a bit of "Caveat Emptor" about what you can do with a law degree.

    I went to law school back in the "good" days of 2003, and we were being fed this same crap. The professors would say "lawyers know how to write" and "lawyers know hot to analyze."

    I remember thinking to myself, yeah but EVERYONE with half a brain knows how to do that. So what do lawyers know what to do?

    Also, no joke, people today keep telling me stuff like "you're a lawyer, you can get a job teaching high school" or "you're a lawyer, you can become an accountant."

    Umm...am I missing something? Since when does law school train you to be a teacher and/or an accountant?

    In short, this crap about how versatile a law degree is has somehow translated into non-lawyers thinking lawyers can do jobs that they never trained for. No wonder the scam worked for so long.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm pretty sure having a law degree rules me out of ever working for a public high school.

      I can't believe people like Marshall still spout that crap with a straight face.

      Delete
    2. This may be true. Everyone will wonder why a lawyer wants to teach.

      Delete
    3. As a matter of historical interest, I wonder if the versatility myth ever had any basis. You know, like in 1960 or thereabouts.

      Delete
  32. Don't worry, Prof. Diamond will be along shortly with all the evidence of how the market for recent college graduates is the best since 1983 and this is all just a rational reaction to the booming economy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't forget about Albany lawsuit being dismissed.

      Delete
  33. @10:28

    There is already a "leader school"; it is called the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School. They don't charge any tuition, in fact, they pay you to attend.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Do you think that some law schools will close? If there are fewer applicants than spots, what will like happen in the next few yearS?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or classes will have to shrink overall.

      My guess is that schools will shrink their class sizes 10% to 20% and keep cutting their budgets internally. Fewer support staff, perhaps some salary cuts.

      It will be 2014 or 2015 before schools consider closing. It will take another 10% to 20% decline in law students before schools actually close.

      Delete
    2. I think with 200+ under serious pressure - and parent colleges and universities making the call, it is pretty likely that there will be an announcement or two in late 2013 that the class of 2016 will be the last class.

      Delete
  35. A comment from a response to Fletcher's "Caveat Emptor" article in the WSJ:

    "Who in his right mind would lend $169,000 to someone whose income after college is $55,000 and where the placement in that profession is roughly 50%? Obviously the legal profession is not the only example where the accumulated debt is unlikely to ever be repaid without some kind of modification. Lenders calculate real-estate loan amounts based on income; maybe that concept should be applied to college-education lending as well."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Who in his right mind would lend $169,000 to someone whose income after college is $55,000 and where the placement in that profession is roughly 50%?"

      "Fiscal conservatives" and "compassionate progressives" in government.

      Delete
    2. There are several reasons I imagine. Most Americans seem to still revere higher education with an almost religious fervour. They believe it to be the ticket to the good life for their children. Throwing money at higher education is a way for politicians to win their votes.

      And its not like its real money which is being loaned out anyhow. Why not keep printing it out? It keeps everyone happy. Except the students when they graduate and have to pay it back. But they don't seem to count for much, yet.

      Delete
  36. How does fucking Cooley still have 1100 students enrolled in the 2016 class. These kids must not be very well informed about the law school job market. The word has not spread far enough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What are you talking about? Class 2016 doesn't even start until August. The 1161 students is for class of 2014.

      Delete
    2. Sorry, typo...

      Delete
    3. I went to one of the Cooley campuses once to motion a new attorney in at a swearing in ceremony. It was really, really nice. Beautiful facilities. Put my law school physical facilities to shame. So I don't doubt the kids enrolling and their parents believe this big beautiful building is the physical embodiment of the legal myth. A bunch of the students were recognized for working on the innocence project or something like that and I just sat there thinking "what next for these kids when they walk out and learn this isn't reality.

      Delete
    4. I can just picture it 5:41, all those people falling for this carefully constructed beautiful scam. You can bet many of the graduates would start to be having doubts at that point, but the parents would just be filled with blind pride for their kids. Unaware that not all law degrees are created equal, and one from Cooley is worth less than an associate diploma in hairdressing.

      Delete
  37. "I guess if you want to work for a school, UVa is the top choice!"

    This gave me a good laugh.

    ReplyDelete
  38. We are probably at or near 1970s levels in terms of applicant volumes. See Chart 4 in Kidder (2003), which indicates that LSAT administrations were between 110,000 and 140,000 annually during the 1970s.

    For comparison, there were about 130,000 LSATs in 2011-12, and there will probably be fewer than 120,000 for 2012-13. And today's applicants are probably more likely to take the LSAT multiple times, which would inflate the current numbers.

    http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/blj/vol19/kidder.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  39. We need to go back to 1970s level of enrollment to right this any time soon. 17,000 per class and there would be a chance of a healthy legal profession.

    ReplyDelete
  40. When I graduated in the mid-90s, there were 130 in my class - we were a Top50 school. My alma mater graduated around 120 last year. Sounds about right. WTF is with these schools that graduate 300/400/500 per year? Put a cap at 150 grads per year, per school. Some people will have to wait a few years to get in, esp to places like Harvard, but a legal education will still be available to those who truly want one...with an acceptable number of new lawyers each year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Harvard is one of the biggest classes.

      Delete
    2. lol wtf is a top50 school? i live in a top48 state.

      Delete
    3. In other words, anywhere but South Carolina and Mississippi.

      Delete
    4. You mean New York or Mass.?

      Delete
    5. Columbia had 275 students in my law school class but graduates 450 in a class now. Their grads are placed for a few years if at all. I and many of my colleagues are facing long term unemployment. There are much too many Columbia Law grads for the job market to absorb. A Columbia Law degree today is a ticket to unemployment for many of their grads.

      Delete
  41. Whether some schools won't have enough students to fill a class of 2016 probably turns on a few things:

    1. How many higher ranked schools trim class sizes. The Cooleys, TJSL, and Santa Claras of the world are probably hoping schools like Columbia and Texas continue to trim their class size.

    2. How many of the students who apply to 1 (~25% of the applicant pool last cycle) or 2-4 schools (~50% of the applicant school last cycle) are aiming for schools that won't accept them. E.g. An Austin resident with strong Austin ties is for UT bust; only sends out one application and gets rejected. If a higher number of these applicants aren't accept then the TTTT situation is incredibly dire/fantastic.

    Source: http://www.lsac.org/lsacresources/publications/pdfs/dec_2012_lsr.pdf

    3. I doubt the accepted applicant -> matriculant ratio changes too much but given the downward trajectory one should expect that any movement will be in the direction of less matriculation.

    4. I suspect drop out rates among 2Ls and 3Ls is growing. The "scam" is going mainstream. I've used TLS for 3 years now and I've never seen so many "median grades at TT, should I drop out?" threads. Could be noise but I suspect it isn't. This particularly threatens TTs and lower because 2Ls and 3Ls often pay more--some of them are 1Ls who have lost scholarships.

    5. Some of the schools are going to hang on because of their large Class of 2014 income. But 2014 and forward things should quicken as the last large cohorts and their tuition dollars exit the schools.

    My prediction is you get a couple closures / "mergers" this year but next year things start to collapse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. Someone who was hoping for Columbia is not going to end up at Cooley. But cuts at Columbia could trigger a cascade of registrations at lower and lower schools that could indeed work its way all the way down to Cooley.

      2. The rejected applicant would still have plenty of time to apply to many a lower-ranking school. As late as the end of July, various schools were actively recruiting applicants, and even some rather highly ranked institutions were prepared to accept applications.

      4. Dropouts open up spaces that can be filled by transfer students—except at the bottom hundred or so schools, where most of those spaces will remain unfilled.

      I wouldn't be a bit surprised if a closure coincided roughly with the opening of the law skule at the Indiana Institute of Technology and Underwater Basketweaving.

      Delete
  42. I wonder if law schools will one day start turning on each other in order to attract students. It seems like most law schools have had a collegial attitude towards each other. But as academic jobs are possibly on the line, I wonder if there will be trash talking.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I think that's where we are headed, WCL.

    As long as there have been enough students, everyone is happy, but remember that every school has kids on scholarship that have numbers that would make them attractive to other schools.

    So if schools ranked 190-200 close, the biggest beneficaries are schools 175-190 (as well as schools that are in the same geographic regions with the closed schools and lose a competitor both in admissions and in post-grad placement).

    ReplyDelete
  44. @Doc, Jan 16 January 16, 2013 at 12:20 PM:

    For some reason, my browser won't let me reply direct. Anyway, I remember Henderson at UofC and his complaining about how hard it was to be him, what with his doctor wife, house in Hyde Park, kids in private school (probably Lab, where all the professor's kiddies go), and his Thai housekeeper. He got panned hard by lots of commentators (e.g. WSJ), his wife bitch-slapped him for being an idiot, and he disappeared for a long time.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704129204575506051919012596.html

    Apparently, his wife needs to slap him again and tell him to shut up, as he can't stop running his learned mouth about things he knows nothing about (e.g. "versatile JDs"). Some people have no idea how to live outside the bubble - oh, to have his so-called "problems".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, what an asshole he is. All that talk about how there's hardly anything left (which isn't true anyway) after a mountain of excessive consumption. I'd put his ass to work picking cotton for a dollar a day.

      Delete
  45. I am very shocked to hear that even Columbia law graduates can be unemployed in large numbers. And things like "too many people graduated from Columbia law" Can someone share more about this? Thanks

    Mr. Lollipop

    ReplyDelete
  46. I am talking about the women from my class and the Columbia women I know in New York. The employment statistics are not good. Everyone was placed in good jobs out of law school, but these jobs were mostly in law firms that do not keep these lawyers.

    I have seen almost no African Americans make and be able to hold on to partnerships in larger law firms. The minorities I know were not from Columbia but other T14 schools.

    I think the problem is common to most top schools - lack of ongoing jobs. The process of dumping large numbers of top law school grads with a few years of experience in major or smaller law firms, clerkships and other short term government jobs into the legal job market each year does not work unless a lot of people are voluntarily leaving the profession or the profession is growing in lateral jobs.

    What has happened is that the law firms and clerkships have trained many more lawyers than there are ongoing jobs.

    My experienced colleagues cannot get hired because there are not legal jobs to go to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is the percentage of Columbia law students that can get into big law once they graduate high? Thanks

      Mr. Lollipop

      Delete
  47. It should not be a surprise that many experienced graduates of even top law schools, such as Columbia or NYU, or Stanford, Harvard or Yale, for that matter, are not working or are in solo practice. To the extent the law schools are selling the product of $160,000 jobs that experienced lawyers do not qualify for, there have to be other jobs at a similar salary for the product to make any sense from the buyer's standpoint. No one has demonstrated that these jobs exist for experienced lawyers.

    The anecdotal evidence and surely my observations is that the ongoing jobs exist, but a large percentage of top grads will not get them. The ongoing jobs are too few in number. There is a huge and ongoing weeding out process of experienced lawyers in the marketplace today.

    The problem is that top graduates of top law schools are suffering years of unemployment and underemployment in trying to get those permanent legal jobs.

    From the standpoint of an experienced and unemployed lawyer (top schools/ records/ former BigLaw or federal clerk) faced with job openings all of which the lawyer otherwise qualifies for, except that the lawyer has too much experience, the situation is not very different from the wholesale exclusion of women and minorities which took place in the legal profession in the past.

    While law firms embrace diversity, they ignore age diversity, and while it likely hits all groups as they get farther out of law school, it hits women and minorities the hardest.

    Why are these law schools allowed to induce people to enroll based on jobs that last only a few years, without disclosing how long the jobs last and where their grads go after the large law firm jobs, clerkships and non-permanent government jobs end?

    ReplyDelete
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