Almost no law professor who has responded, either in public or in private (I have yet to hear from any administrators), has taken the line that the current model of legal education in America is basically sound, and just requires some marginal tweaking while we wait for the job market to pick up. I find this surprising given that, even earlier this year, that seemed to be the reaction of most legal academics to claims that something was seriously wrong. That was the reaction I got to my initial attempts to rouse people from their dogmatic slumbers, and that seems to be the response Brian Tamanaha and Bill Henderson were mostly getting to their respective forays into sounding the alarm. Even the first big David Segal piece on the front page of the New York Times in January seemed to barely ruffle the surface of the placid lake upon which legal academia collectively floated (If a front page story in the paper of record about how your business model is breaking down doesn't get your attention . . .).
But now things seem . . . different somehow. I don't want to exaggerate the extent of the change, but there are various signs that we may be beginning to approach some sort of tipping point. Part of it may simply be that people in the law business, like people all across the economy, are starting to get the sense that "things" aren't going to get significantly better any time soon -- that this isn't a normal downturn in the business cycle, but something much more structural, problematic, and even historical in its dimensions. The real possibility exists that the old world of economic growth, fueled by too-easy credit and the ever-increasing pace of consumerism it enabled, may be if not gone forever, at least not likely to return in anything resembling its previous form.
Another factor in whatever shift in the wind may be happening is that the information that various muckrakers have been trying to compile and get out there is finally starting to sink in. The scam bloggers have played a key role in this process, and I made the decision to frame this blog as a further contribution to their effort both as a tribute to their importance, and as an acknowledgement that their basic message is correct. The basic message of the scam blogs has been, for more than three years now, that law school has become a ripoff for a very large proportion of law students. It's a ripoff because the benefits of going to law school, for a huge number of current students and recent graduates, are outweighed by the costs to a disastrous and even life-wrecking degree, and because law schools have gone to great lengths to obscure that fact. Slowly but surely, legal academics, who even a year ago almost universally rejected and ignored that message, are beginning to acknowledge it is true.
Which brings us to the question of what next. Christine Hurt at Conglomerate puts it this way:
So, what are law schools supposed to do? Anonymous Law Prof isn't a big fan of modern scholarship, but my cliched question after reading all of his very informative posts is "So, what is the normative uptake?" ALP has done a good job of describing the main problem (though I don't agree with all of his commentary on the whys, wherefores and results), but what is the prescription? His commenters are enjoying the therapeutic exercise of placing blame and exposing bad outcomes, but at some point we need to talk about the solution, besides "more transparency," which seems to be on the road to happening.Now this is a fair question. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. For one thing, claims that more transparency "seems to be on the road to happening" shouldn't be overstated. Law schools -- which mostly means law school administrators, more on that shortly -- are still very much hiding the ball on employment stats. Yesterday I highlighted Jason Dolin's data indicating that the real employment rate at a top tier school for the class of 2010 was probably under 50%, and that at a lower-tier school it was 20% at best. These numbers are very much in line with what my own research indicates. Prospective law students who limit their inquiries to what law schools tell them about this matter would never get the faintest inkling of any of this. In the last few months I've noticed that as the -- to put it as delicately as possible -- "misleading" character of official law school employment stats has gotten harder to ignore, a tendency on the part of law faculty to imply that any 0L who takes official law school pronouncements about employment at anything like their face value is simply a fool. This strikes me as a rather remarkable attitude to adopt, given the endless bloviating in the law school world about professional ethics and aspiring to something higher and more noble than etc. etc.
Law schools have engaged in a massive disinformation campaign about the true employment prospects of their students, they are (we are) continuing to do so, and to this point almost nothing has been done about this at the official institutional and regulatory levels. So let's not all start giving each other warm embraces about increasing transparency just yet.
OK, so "everyone" agrees we need a lot more transparency (except for the people who currently have the power to change the status quo). What's the next step? Here Prof. Hurt notes that this question, coming from a law professor, has a cliched quality, and it indeed it does. If this little project of mine was proceeding according to SOP for legal academic writing, I would have spent about five minutes writing about how legal education is no longer producing enough bang for its buck, and then immediately launched into my five-part plan, involving various balancing tests and levels of review, for Fixing What's Wrong.
I haven't done that for a couple of reasons. First, despite the recent progress noted above, most of legal academia is still in deep denial about just how bad the problem really is. Reformist efforts that get undertaken in the current atmosphere aren't going to get far, because most law professors still have no real idea what we're dealing with here: with just how out of wack the law school cost curve has gotten, and with just how completely the job market for new attorneys has cratered. I once saw a sign at a naval base outside Chicago which said "If you can keep your head while all around you are losing theirs, then maybe you don't understand the situation." Precisely. So, in my view, a whole lot more consciousness raising needs to happen before genuine reform has any chance of getting started.
Second, and more fundamentally, it's a sign of the lack of intellectual seriousness of so much of legal academic life that law professors are expected to -- and expect themselves -- to hire a couple of research assistants and just whip up a handy, readily implementable "solution" (in the form of a law review article naturally) to a minor problem such as the ongoing collapse of the traditional economic and pedagogic model of American legal education. I would suggest that this expectation indicates, among other things, that our methods have become unsound. "Fixing" legal education in America in any meaningful way is going to require an enormous effort of political will, a terrific expenditure of capital, both economic and cultural, and most of all a whole bunch of currently entitled people getting desperate enough that they're willing to experiment with all sorts of alternative approaches to the status quo, many of which won't work, and all of which are likely to alter the status quo for the worse as far as they're concerned (although not worse than what will happen if they persist in what they'll finally recognize is a futile effort to maintain the status quo).
In other words, we've all got a long way to go. That, in the end, is why with this blog I've thrown my lot in with the scam bloggers. Yes they are rude and crude and disrespectful of their elders and not much given to making "constructive suggestions" (translation: making a few minor changes while keeping everything else the same to the extent possible). But they are right. And until that gets much more generally recognized within the still far-too cozy confines of legal academia, nothing is going to happen.
" "Fixing" legal education in America in any meaningful way is going to require an enormous effort of political will, a terrific expenditure of capital, both economic and cultural, and most of all a whole bunch of currently entitled people getting to a sufficiently desperate point that they're willing to experiment with all sorts of alternative approaches to the status quo, many of which won't work,"ReplyDelete
Yep....thats why nothing will ever change until the people you say are "rude and crude and disrespectful of their elders" and really giving "constructive suggestions" need to grow a pair and take matters in their own hands. Nothing is going to change and nobody but the people who are in desperate situations can change them.
In this age of internet smear campaigns and Anonymous and flash mobs it is kind of sad that a large group of grad students who have so much to gain and are losing so much in this bargain do...nothing. The law schools and ABA and biglaw partners have not played fair and taken advantage of their position. It is time to organize and give some payback. I know that if I was $150 grand in the hole and working some crap legal job with no future (or unemployed) I would fucking make people PAY psychically for the damage they wrought. Your futures are over....nobody is going to save you....what are you waiting for?
...NOT really giving "constructive suggestions"...ReplyDelete
I like how law schools take something that can and should happen tomorrow and turn it into something that "seems to be on the road to happening."ReplyDelete
It won't happen. Law schools are fighting tooth and nail to keep lying about job placement. They fought LST. They fought US News. They are fighting the ABA's improvements. Their revenue is on the line, and that's more important than honesty.
I love that you have come out and started posting some of this. My son just graduated with a law degree from a top law school (cum laude)in Florida. Even though I know he just graduated and only recently took the bar exam (results are due this month). The job market looks dismal and I think he is really concerned. He has close to $150,000 dollars in debt. He is not alone there must be thousands of young adults out there like him. I think he went in with his eyes open and we were aware of what the law schools were doing, but I truly believed he wanted to be a lawyer (since he was a young child). He is not one of those who went to law school just because he had nothing else lined up. I've even tried to warn a friend of mine who's kid want to go to law school "because the job market sucks". That is no reason to go to law school. Thanks for writing your blog! This whole student loan thing is going to come to a nasty head at some point.ReplyDelete
In the last few months I've noticed as the -- to put it as delicately as possible -- "misleading" character of official law school employment stats has gotten harder to ignore, a tendency on the part of law faculty to imply that any 0L who takes official law school pronouncements about employment at anything like their face value is simply a fool.ReplyDelete
In other words, "We lied to you to get you to borrow $150k and give it to us, but it's really your fault because you should have known that we were lying."
Disgusting. Completely and utterly disgusting.
Excellent critique of a law review article asReplyDelete
(a) a method of communicating an idea (Nobody reads them!) or (b) a method of changing something (again, nobody reads them!). A blog is far far more effective tool for both purposes.
Also, your statement: "If this little project of mine was proceeding according to SOP for legal academic writing, I would have spent about five minutes writing about how legal education is no longer producing enough bang for its buck, and then immediately launched into my five-part plan, involving various balancing tests and levels of review, for Fixing What's Wrong." is a good critique of the facile and superficial law review thought exericse.
That's just another example of how legal academia is behind the times. That is not how change agents operate in the real world when exploring and answering real questions. Such an exercise is done every day in business and no one deals with it by publishing an article no one reads. Rather, in the real world, the process is much more lengthy and involves more back and forth with the people with whom you are communicating.
HOW ABOUT THIS FOR AN IDEA! Ditch law review articles completely. If you have a thesis you want to write about, do so by starting a blog where you explore and talk about that thesis in depth and in a collaborative style. The latter is pretty clearly a superior exercise. Law review articles may have been fine for discourse in the 1900s, but they're obsolete now.
Law schools -- which mostly means law school administrators, more on that shortly -- are still very much hiding the ball on employment stats.ReplyDelete
Yup. I'm sure they're just waiting for this "scam thing" to blow over so they can get back to business as usual. Bloggers and their allies have to keep the pressure on, or nothing will happen.
Not only that 8:11, but they are fighting tooth and nail behind the scenes. Their accomplice, the NALP, threatened to work with law schools to sue the ABA for the meager improvements!ReplyDelete
One of the great contributions of scam blogs is the way they highlight the experiences of current students and recent grads. Reading someone's heartfelt description of what pursuing the law-school promise has done to his/her life is what made me, at least, begin to grasp the true seriousness of the problem.ReplyDelete
Legal Field Is Nation’s Most Difficult Industry for Job Placement, Employment Website Says http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/legal_field_is_nations_worst_industry_for_job_placement_employment_website_/?utm_source=maestro&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly_emailReplyDelete
The problem cannot and will not be addressed by those in the position to leverage any kind of change. The only thing that will do it is a market correction, i.e. the bubble bursts and idiots stop enrolling in such large numbers that schools start to close of their own accord or significantly shrink due to enrollment. I don't know if that will happen, I hope it does, or when it may happen, I hope it happens soon, but it's likely to remain this way for some time.ReplyDelete
I chalk it up to the naive students, like I was at the time, the lack of any meaningful regulation, the ABA and their overlords are worthless fucktards, and the federal subsidized loans, incentivizing bad behavior and creating modern day shackles. The best thing that the scamblogs have done is to call out that the emperor wears no clothes and provide at least one counter voice to the zombies beating the drums of the benefits of becoming a victim of the scam.
If tuition rates had remained what they were 30 years ago in proportion to what students actually make rather than the ludicrous inflation of today it wouldn't be nearly as much of an issue that they're ripping kids off. That is the commonality between the law school scam and the higher ed racket in general. It's been corporatized and monetized in a way that has transformed the entire endeavor. It's beyond saving and would take decades to correct. The best thing prospective students can do for themselves is stay away from the trap entirely. America, fuck yeah!
One of the problems LawProf has highlighted time and again is the fact that law faculties are generally clueless about what happens to the majority of the graduating class. The true life stories related here and in scam blogs are probably of little moment to the most powerful among them. Over the years I have seen academic revolutions come and go but like LawProf I think this one has real legs. In the last few years fewer and fewer of my second semester senior (3L) students had any idea of what they would be doing after the bar exam. Here is why: http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/legal_field_is_nations_worst_industry_for_job_placement_employment_website_/?utm_source=maestro&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly_emailReplyDelete
"So, what are law schools supposed to do?"ReplyDelete
Shut the fuck down! Close. Stop taking in gullible students, stop living off the backs of students who obtain easy government student loan money. stop the charade, period. Tell all these so-called academics - these professorial pinheads and arrogant windbags - and the administrator leeches, to get off their asses and go out into the world a get real jobs where they actually have to DO something to make a living.
Both Horwitz and Hurt have tried to suggest that blogging doesn't qualify as "doing something." I give them credit for feeling guilty enough to look for a way to rationalize inaction by professors. But in this case, talking, writing, blogging, etc is exactly the kind of action law professors should be taking. Like Lawprof said, we are a long way away from universal acknowledgement and acceptance of the problem.ReplyDelete
There has been a lot of discussion about the irrationality of 0Ls, and how they will apply to law school no matter what is told to them, no matter how bad the employment situation, etc. I think there is a lot of truth to that.
However, we have yet to see the effects on 0Ls of a message by law professors themselves that law school is an unwise choice and carries serious risks. As Lawprof's blog demonstrates, the message is received differently when it comes from the mouth of a law professor. Many such mouths, speaking together, could really have a powerful effect. We won't know the extent of the effect until that happens.
I simply do not understand why law schools can't conduct the admissions process so that it is more like that of medical schools. Essentially, only admit the number of students for whom there is high probability of gaining employment. This would mean shutting down a large number of law schools - at least half of them, changing the way information is exchanged between the profession and the legal education complex, and changing the way government loan programs are set up and run to accommodate the production/education of new lawyers.ReplyDelete
8:07 *and* 9:13 are spot on. There are two arguments that the LawProf and his readers are really making, I think: 1) law schools' value are out of wack compared to their cost, and 2) law schools' value are out of wack due to their model. The current law school model doesn't hold up because the ROI isn't there - students carry too much debt for the cost of an education that won't get them the job that will enable the student to pay it back. I believe, if the free market actually exists, that, over time, 5, 10 or 20 years, students will not apply, schools will cut numbers and then eventually close, and the market will correct itself. There can't be any pressure onto them to do that, though, because they will just fight back, and the artificial adjustment will just lead us right back here.ReplyDelete
The second argument is why are we going to law school in the first place. It doesn't teach us shit to practice actual law. Whether it's cost prohibitive or not to the student isn't at issue; it's become cost prohibitive to the employer. Students come out, psych majors who take "law and [fill in liberal art], but then because they are law review at a T-14 school, they are in a NYC BigLaw corporate department doing M&A or 144 offerings or something. They're 25, haven't even heard of a bond until their one Bus Orgs class in 2L, and are now doing the legal work behind billion dollar deals. Of course, they are also just a useless cog in that machine, they aren't really doing the deal, because, again, *they don't know anything about what they're doing*. They don't know substantively or practically how to practice law when they graduate. So the employer trains them. At a high cost. The model is broken. Again, though, the market should correct this.
So, as was written, no law review article needed. Nobody reads those. The only things needed are loud voices and time.
If nobody is going to do anything about federal loans driving up the price of tuition then 9:39's solution could work. Then there won't be sad sack attorney's gullible enough to take on that debt with no job prospects and not enough motivation to attack the people who screwed them while the market for the rest of us doesn't turn into a race to the bottom. Done and done.ReplyDelete
@ 8:06, I believe this is the defense the Thomas Jefferson Law School is using to the class action suit.ReplyDelete
A great idea. We could close down the entire bottom half, and it still probably wouldn't put a dent in legal employment, but it would at least be a start.
9:25 nailed it.ReplyDelete
There are far too many law schools. Any one that wants to go to law school can. There is always some shit school who will take them regardless of how unfit they are to practice law.
On the other hand, look at medical school. Not everyone that wants to go to medical school can. Most people are not meant to be doctors and could not survive medical school.
The ABA needs to play some type of gate keeping role. Not every individual who wants to go to law school should be able to get in. The ABA needs to re-evaluate its accreditation process and start dumping the low hanging fruit crap law schools. States need to step up too and require graduation from an accredited law school prior to sitting for the bar. If each year's law school class is limited nationwide, it could go along way to filter out those students who would unknowingly be making a huge mistake by attending law school.
@ 9:39 I almost agree.ReplyDelete
reality check - shutting down schools are just not going to happen, short of class action suits shutting them down financially. Instead their lifeblood, guaranteed federal non-dischargeable loans need to be reformed. The ABA does not control them.ReplyDelete
9:59, How could that be possible? How could something so harmful, fraudulent and arguably criminal continue to exist with impunity? Do you think they can also raise tuitions at 6% a year for another ten years? I doubt it. Logic demands change.ReplyDelete
Self-interest > demands of logicReplyDelete
10:13 are you a law student or recent grad? This has been going on, like, forever. And they will continue to raise tuition as long as there are warm bodies.ReplyDelete
Well at this rate a year's tuition will be $90,000 (lol!) in a decade.ReplyDelete
A decade from now, it will take $90,000 just to buy one casebook.ReplyDelete
10:49 brings up a good point. For all the talk about solutions, this is a problem that will eventually solve itself. It will get a lot worse for a lot more people before it does, but it has to end eventually. Tuition cannot continue to double every 5 or 10 years. Employment rates for schools like Toledo cannot go from 20% to 10% or 5%. Yes, the trend has been going on for a long time, but we're getting close to the end. The very fact that this blog exists is a sign that the end is near.ReplyDelete
A decade from now it will cost you $90,000 a year to get a legal position.ReplyDelete
You're probably right.
@10:56 even if tuition went up 0% over the next decade the same problems will exist...can you figure out why?ReplyDelete
If tution holds constant, then the increase will be limited to the number of bitter and disgruntled law school graduates out there. As this number approaches infinity, something will give, the culture will change, and the problem will correct itself.ReplyDelete
future grads will be just as bitter at $36 grand a year....and you keep telling yourself how culture is self-correcting. May I suggest you read up on the culture of greed manifested by the baby boomers?ReplyDelete
I work at Gtown University and should let all of you know that the university is extensively trying to recruit students from China and enhance its ties with the Asian markets in general because it knows that American students are increasingly a poor source of alumni donations with their debt burdens. LOOK CLOSELY: THIS IS A TREND THAT CAN BE SEEN AT MANY BIG UNIVERSITIES RIGHT NOW. In addition, higher-ups already see the writing on the wall with the availability of student loans from the US Government. They find that the newly-found and existing wealth in the burgeoning Asian markets will provide a fresh source of revenues to exploit.ReplyDelete
Trust me! The higher-ups in these schools are already aware of what they are doing to the domestic population and are anxiously laying the groundwork for their next victims.
The non-profit status of all these institutions should be called into question when they are most definitely making a profit from these government-backed loans, the guarantee of which induces these institutions to increase their tuition costs even more so.ReplyDelete
I work at Gtown University and should let all of you know that the university is extensively trying to recruit students from China and enhance its ties with the Asian markets in general because it knows that American students are increasingly a poor source of alumni donations with their debt burdens.ReplyDelete
This doesn't surprise me, but why is it a bad thing?
11:53: That sounds all too plausible. I notice a couple of LSAT testing centers have now been opened in China.ReplyDelete
All law schools should be required to undergo an audit. If schools can't prove a substantial number of their graduates are getting real legal jobs, a substantial need exists in their region or city for new lawyers (taking into acount immigration from other cities, so no cover for the NYC TTT schools), or that their school is a "national reach" school (only the top 25 schools might qualify for this distinction) you should be shut down unless you can keep costs under 10K per student per year.ReplyDelete
US News needs to reform its rankings to eliminate those factors that drive expenditures, such as spending per pupil and peer assessment (to end the war for better credentialed and higher paid faculty) and replace them with outcome factors like real employment rates and graduate satisfaction 1 yr and 5 yrs out.
12:14 has it dead on. If the law schools cannot prove with empirical independently audited data that there is a significant enough market for their graduates, the federal government should limit the amount of federal student loan aid that is available to that school's students. Simple in its brilliance. The performance of the school's graduates in the marketplace should be linked to future availabilty of loans to its students. Why should the federal government want to finance the education of lawyers when there is no demand for them in the market when they graduate. Seems like an excellent first step.ReplyDelete
"Trust me! The higher-ups in these schools are already aware of what they are doing to the domestic population and are anxiously laying the groundwork for their next victims."ReplyDelete
Exactly. These people are nothing but lying pigs feeding at the trough of whatever money they can find. They'll stop at nothing to justify their unnecessary existence.
At my law school, when it became clear that the market was tanking (this was around 2006-07), demand for new graduates was evaporating and that most, if not all, of the students would faile to obtain any kind of meaningful legal employment, the buffoon of a Dean - who has since be booted out - started an emphasis of pushing students into . . . wait for it . . . non-paying civic engagement jobs. Yes, that's right. Students were supposed to pay $30-$40K a year for the privilege of subsequently going out and being a human sacrifice for the greater good of society. Keep in mind that such endeavors had no diminishing affect whatsoever on the $300K a year this digusting Dean was siphoning off of the students and the US government student loan gravy train.
12:11 and 11:53 -- you've hit on one of the even more wicked aspects of the Law School Scam, the LLM for international lawyers. Law schools entice students from other countries to come here and pay ridiculous sums, and even advertise that the students will gan admission to a state bar in the US; what they don't say is that the vast majority of state bars will NOT recognize an LLM without a JD from an accredited US law school. I've even seen websites claiming the international LLM students will be able to practice "federal law" in any state once they gain admission to any other state's bar -- which is categorically false.ReplyDelete
So while the US student's degree is worthless due to market conditions, the international student's degree is worthless regardless of market conditions.
yea but at least those aren;t paid for by poor students through non-dischargeable debt but rather through spoiled elites from other countries who can afford this idiocy.ReplyDelete
One thing I'd just like to mention about the notion that law faculty need to teach practice skills. While I wholeheartedly think this is mainly the case, my sense is that many students equate this with a seasoned practitioner telling war stories in class. Really, you don't need to pay $150k for that.ReplyDelete
Well, you convinced *this* undergrad to put off law school in favor of a Chemical Engineering Ph.D. I'm in the top 2% of my class (in chemistry) and my parents saved no money for my college education, so it's a no-brainer in retrospect.ReplyDelete
I knew a lawyer from Colorado who went to a third-tier school, graduated in 2007, and couldn't find a job for the next two years. He opened up a one-man "law practice" from his basement to fill the resume gap.
Heck, I'm a seasoned practitioner, and I'd be happy to tell war stories to law students for a six pack.ReplyDelete
1:31: The sad thing is that you'd be highly in demand. Your advanced degree would mean that you could punch above your weight in terms of biglaw hiring even if you didn't get into a top 10 law school. Every law firm in the country is seemingly desperate for people with advanced technical degrees and there are plenty of boutique patent/IP firms that also pay market salaries (160K). In fact, I had a friend with a biosciences Ph.D. who grossed over 100K while in law school because he worked for a biglaw firm 1L summer (30K), a biglaw firm 2L summer (30K), and worked full time at a patent boutique during 3L year (50K) while taking joke classes.ReplyDelete
You also found this blog before you went to law school (how did you do this?). Most students don't stumble onto scamblogs until after they're already into the scam for at least a year's tuition and they've just realized there are no jobs coming during Fall hiring season...
It's the folks with political science, history, english degrees who are trying to buy their way to a middle-class life who are the real victims of the scam.
12:11, it's happening at all levels of post-secondary education in this country. It's bad because the univeristies get the non-loaned tuition from foreign students who then take the education out of the country. They have also taken a spot from a student in this country, who now no longer possesses the same skills impliedly outsourced by our educational system. Meanwhile, the univeristy gets the donation from the alumni/ae from out-of-country, and continues to build bigger buildings and locker rooms and stadia, raising the tuition even higher. Plus the alumni/ae is now using that education not in our [legal, medical, etc.] system, making the existence of said school kind of obsolete - if the school's existence is to impart education on someone so that they can use that to enhance a service or skill, and that person doesn't exist to do so, what is the purpose of that school? I understand that the economy is global, and there may be no inherent difference between educating someone in New York who then moves to Washington, or Seattle, or Beijing, or Cairo, but that skill set isn't being realized in the present. Meanwhile, our population gets less and less educated because they aren't taking those spots. And it's not about the ability to succeed in the classroom, it's about the ability to succeed in the wallet. That's not how a 21st Century society should function. That's how 12th Century societies functioned, and we see what happened to them . . . .ReplyDelete
Don't know the specifics of your Chem Eng. PhD program, but you are basically signing up for six years of indentured servitude in support of your future principal investigator's research endeavours. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but just make sure you enjoy the lab work and can put up with the constant reality of toiling all day in the lab, discovering that your experiment didn't work, and then trying to figure out why it went wrong. I could not stand that, felt like I was wasting my life away, so I got out before I got to far into it.ReplyDelete
The chem engineering guy might want to consider applying right now for a Patent Agent position with the Patent Office. Work for a few years and then consider going to GWU law at night while working for the Patent Office. GW has a well respected IP program where you would be able to make some excellent connections, I believe at least one judge on the federal circuit teaches a patent class there. If you think you want to do Patent law, there may be other options than going to law school straight away or signing up for years and years in a PhD program.ReplyDelete
1:51 here - Meant to say patent examiner, not patent agent.ReplyDelete
The culture will change in the sense that people will stop thinking of law school as an easy path to financial success. That undeserved reputation could only survive so long as people were not loudly complaining. And prior to a couple of years ago, people really were not complaining too loudly about law school. But they are now, and they will continue to. And that will have an effect over time.ReplyDelete
@ 1:41: Those all sound like good things from the law school POV. Foreign students take spots that Americans could have taken -- that's good because there are far too many American law students now. Foreign students take their degrees back to their home countries -- that's good because there are too many American lawyers now. And foreign students pay full freight and make big donations -- that's good because it subsidizes the education American law students are getting.ReplyDelete
LOL - "subsidizing American law students." They subsidize law school admin's pockets while pushing tuition costs upReplyDelete
A few thought and comments following the post and comments above:ReplyDelete
- The school I graduated from in May is still calming 95%+ job placement. I no longer have the documentation provided to me when I was applying back in 2008 (I checked my files today, I must have discarded it somewhere along the line), but I recall the number also being in the 90% range. I hate to admit it, but I had no idea they were lying to me. Really. That may make me gullible, or a fool, or worse. But, seriously, are we going to begin the conversation by blaming the student for taking the employment information provided at face value? That's sounds way to much like blaming the rape victim for dressing provocatively.
- Blogging is certainly doing something. It's about time those friggin' print-centered dinosaurs get rattled about a bit. Print is dead, and had been for some time. This format reaches a far greater audience. And, therefore, promises to create a greater effect.
- The point is not, and should never be, that some 0L's will make mistakes in enrolling even when told the truth. Rather, the issue is the misleading employment statistics which create an unfair expectation of the benefit provided for the cost incurred. Some kids will not enjoy law school and drop out, some will fail out, and some may never practice law upon graduation. It matters not that a particular person may make an irrational decision. Instead, the prospective student must be given truthful information upon which she can make a rational decision. Under the current system, all choices made are irrational as they are based on smoke, mirrors, dreams, and lies.
- The legal education model in this country has gotten lazy. The requirement of a degree from an ABA accredited school is a fairly recent invention. The need of a mentor to essentially train in the ways of the law had always existed. The change is that at one point one could sit for the bar with only the apprenticeship experience. The degree requirement created a situation where the law school supplanted the apprenticeship, and as such, it is reasonable to expect a similar value in the experience - the ability to practice law after completion. Instead, the ABA requires the degree and the school dumps the unprepared on the labor marked expecting someone, somewhere, to invest the time and effort in getting the newly minted attorney up to snuff. Why do we do this? If the degree does not train one to practice law, why is it required? The apprenticeship is what matters. And the investment proved too steep for firms all across the eastern seaboard a few years ago, orphaning a generation of graduates. And those kids are the ones who started the scam blog movement.
I’d write more, but I have to pick my daughter up from school and make dinner. Sorry if my hurried typing is a bit jumbled.
What I find incredible is that someone with the views of LawProf could continue to draw a salary as a law professor, at a public institution no less. His hypocrisy is mind numbing -- he is like an executioner who opposes the death penalty. Have some self respect man, and get out!ReplyDelete
To build on what 8:06 a.m. said:ReplyDelete
Want to know what deans think of their alumni when they complain about money and fraud?
"[Dean] Kransberger said she doesn’t believe Alaburda or any other students 'worth their salt' base their choice of a law school solely on the U.S. News rankings."
Translation: Fuck off law grad. You aren't needed anymore.
Professor Campos, if you are allying yourself with the scambloggers, you should link every scamblog on your blogroll. Your readership has taken off partly due to the scamblogging community.
2:22 = Some law professor seeking to extinguish LawProf. That's all the law school establishment is focused on these days, trying to find some way of marginalizing the scamblogs ("the scamblogs run by grads are just losers who failed at life, and are complaining on the net" "LawProf is a hypocrite" blah blah). That and continuing to create fake statistics to the best of their ability. STFU 2:22.ReplyDelete
Dan, this site isn't here to advertise for the other scamblogs. if you want to link them (as you do in your name) go ahead, but stop trying to force poor LawProf - who has already sacrificed a lot in writing this blog - into advertising them for you. In other words, let's not be an ingrate.ReplyDelete
This site is performing a public service. The scamblogs serve a public service. I believe this "public service" includes informing potential students of factual information that they cannot get from law schools and the PR machine. The more blogs they read, the more information they get.
Poor LawProf? Are you @$@#%# serious?
Hello, Brian Leiter.
Dan, you're the epitome of the guy who is given something only to ask for ten things more. Poor LawProf has done more than could be expected of him, purely as charity.ReplyDelete
oh stfu 2:55...he has tenure and thsi blog should be seen as his duty and not "charity." Moron.ReplyDelete
What I find incredible is that someone with the views of LawProf could continue to draw a salary as a law professor, at a public institution no less.ReplyDelete
Sure, why bother with any of the issues being raised when we can just shoot the messenger instead?
Here is one modest suggestion. Circulate a pledge to every law professor in America, under which they agree not to accept a pay raise until the median graduate of their institution has a higher starting salary than law school debt. Similarly, circulate a pledge to law school administrators that they will not hire a new professor until that same metric is reached. In the event of departures, remaining professors will be asked to make up the difference by teaching more.ReplyDelete
Given that professors are already quite well paid this would be an easy way for anyone who professes concern about the current model to put their money where their mouths are. And, perhaps, it might exert moral pressure on professors who wouldn't otherwise admit there is a problem.
@3:14 I would propose something even simpler: an on-line petition for professors (and maybe others) to sign. It could be a one-page statement of principles focusing on full and accurate disclosure of job-related data. If you could get those who are already "out" on the issue to sign on, then you could start putting others on the spot. "Why haven't you signed it yet? What possible objection could you have to full disclosure of relevant & material information to prospective students?"ReplyDelete
"Dan, you're the epitome of the guy who is given something only to ask for ten things more."ReplyDelete
As a practicing litigator, I cannot think of a better compliment. Thanks!!!!!
@3:14....lol - now that would show some sort of proof of change is gonna come. i wouldn't hold my breath however....right Campos? If any of you believe thats going to happen, well you deserve what you're going to get. A whole lotta nothing.ReplyDelete
3:28: That's an excellent idea. I think I'll take a shot at a first draft and then post it for comments.ReplyDelete
Maybe separate categories. Students and graduates should have a voice as well.
Good idea None. How about three separate categories of signers: Law school employees, current law students, and former law students?ReplyDelete
Still not holding my breath...this shit has been going down for decades. Sorry but have seen way too many casualties out in the field. If you really cared or were decent you would have quit. Honestly. I could have worked for big tobacco years ago too but I actually have a conscience. But whatever gets you through the night....ReplyDelete
Further, you wrote: "Law schools have engaged in a massive disinformation campaign about the true employment prospects of their students . . . ."ReplyDelete
If "misinformation" is a word, I think that is what you mean.
As far as actually doing something goes: first, you're right that a lot of awareness raising still needs to happen. That said, I think you've missed an important undercurrent of the scamblogs, though. Part of what is indeed driving this is the current economic depression and the similarities between the meltdown that kicked everything off (i.e., mortgages) and what is happening with education more broadly. Not to indulge this point more than I already have, but at heart, we've commodotized something that is either a public good or very close to one, and in the name of profits we've sought out less and less and less suitable raw materials (whether mortgagors or students) just so that we can start the paper-asset trail. It's highly lucrative and as highly destructive. The point, however, is that this is how awareness is raised. No one likes, cares for, or is concerned about lawyers. Their well-being is only mentioned in broader circles as a punchline. But if you can connect the outrages here (as they are) to the outrages in the broader economy, well, then you've got an argument about how we have all gone so very fucking wrong, just from a paradigmatic perspective. That realization will help motivate people because it pushes acceptable reform towards the more radical end. It's Negotiation 101, and the more legitimate the more radical arguments, the more motivated people are for it, and the better the reform we end up with is.
Now, in that connection, I do see what you mean about law professors' useless theorizing. But that, quite simply, can't be allowed to become a good reason for just doing nothing in the way of talking about concrete solutions.
And, finally, any solution that doesn't at a minimum provide transparency in the form of honest statistics collected from answers to very simple, straightforward questions, like "Considering the cost of my education and my current employment status, I feel that attending my law school was a good decision." I've suggested before that while it's inappropriate for schools to see students as consumers, students should have every right to assume that they are customers and are "always right", and I think a customer survey type of aspect should definitely be included. There is no good reason why it should be excluded. In the end, though, I think we need to make law schools put skin in the game. People are going to enormous, desperate lengths to avoid defaulting on loans. Making schools a co-guarantor (maybe of some percentage of each student's loans, if not the entire principal) would not, I don't think, be unacceptable. Doing so would not mitigate the disaster of defaulting, and I really don't see the objection to this proposal, either. I wouldn't default on my loans if I didn't have to just to fuck with my school, however much it deserves it.
Well, that was mostly English, but you get the point.ReplyDelete
LawProf: I think that's an interesting ideas as well. If the "former law students" category includes practicing attorneys - as I assume it logically would - I would consider signing it depending on the wording.ReplyDelete
Of potential interest - Prof. Horwitz has posted again on this topic at Prawfs, describing a first-day-of-class discussion that he led in his Legal Ethics class after assigning this blog and his related posts as (some of the) required reading.
Sorry, here's the link to Prof. Horwitz's post: http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2011/09/teaching-legal-ethics-with-the-present-crisis-in-the-foreground.html#moreReplyDelete
One point that I think sometimes gets lost in the shuffle: Even if things were to return to "normal" (i.e., 2007), the employment picture wasn't nearly as great then as law school employment stats made it out to be. The post-2008 economic crisis has made the problem far worse, but things had been trending in this direction for a long time before 2008.ReplyDelete
This post references an analysis indicating that the real employment rate at a top tier school for the class of 2010 was probably "under 50%", and at a lower tier school "20% at best". In the mid 2000s, the lower tier school was probably around the same place the top tier school is now, and the top tier school was probably something like 70-80%. Even then, there were likely only a dozen schools or so where this rate hit 90%.
Hey fuckwads, I have terrible news for you. Even the job placement rate for PhD programs is 50%.ReplyDelete
It's all a lie. Higher education was never intended for everyone. Didn't any of you jackasses read Huxley's Brave New World at some point during your summer reading lists?
9:25 a.m. +1ReplyDelete
1. Discontinue federal student loans and gurantees of student loans.
2. Make student loans dischargable in bankruptcy.
For those that find lawprof hypocritical, I'd venture to guess he feels that way as well. I know I do. As an admissions dean there was a time I felt genuine pride in assisting 0Ls. Over the years, as tuition and debt loads increased, as law schools made decisions based on improving their rankings, and as I watched graduates struggling to find jobs, I began to question my own morality and ethics. How could I recruit students to a future of unemployment and debt? But, I also have a responsibility to put food on the table for my own family. So, I at least committed myself to reading scam blogs, being informed about efforts to reform legal education, and do my best to challenge prospective students to ask the big questions before going to law school so that they make an informed decision. We may be hypocrites, knowing what we know and still getting paid to be part of the system. But, I have to believe that change only happens when people within the system have the balls to speak truth and challenge the status quo - to be part of the solution. The idea that maybe I can make a difference in the lives of aspiring law students, even if it means I help them to aspire to something else, is still what drives me and even occasionally helps me sleep at night.ReplyDelete
7:58's point is well taken, but I think the public perception is that a BA, PhD, etc. will get you nowhere, while there is a still a widely held belief that a JD will. Even before 2008, that perception was greatly exaggerated, unless the JD was from a top school or was accompanied by top grades. If anything, the estimates of mid 2000s employment rates in the post at 6:44 may be too generous.ReplyDelete
Many 0Ls think they're exceptional and will win the law school lottery. At the same time, I think there are also a lot of 0Ls who figure they won't get the top jobs, but have the perception that a middling law school grad will still do OK. These folks get just as much of a rude awakening as the first group. For those who haven't seen the legal job market up close, it's shocking how fast things drop off once you get past the elite. To say there's nothing is an exaggeration (and will leave you vulnerable to attacks from apologists pointing out that this isn't true, with no further elaboration), but there's surprisingly little between the small group that gets BIGLAW and the point where finding any permanent full-time legal job at all is no guarantee.
The law schools think it's pretty neatReplyDelete
to gobble on the lending teat
and ride that gravy train on tracks
laid across poor debtors backs;
to know that half the student body
n'aer will buy a pissin' potty.
Well clip, clip, clip clop
Get of your high horse
and deal with all the plop!
just look at all the human waste
from denial, and disgrace.
Then pack your bags
and put them in the cellar
and go hang out
I would like to thank you professor very much for this blog. I will now stop doing LSAT prep.ReplyDelete
I would go a bit further, I believe this issue with law schools, is the same with the entire educational system, that includes undergraduate education.
I remember schools in their undergraduate information packets about their schools saying that there is a 95% employment rate after graduation. What they did not include, however, was the fact that of that 95%, people with an honors degree in Political Science, for example, can be working at McDonalds, Starbucks, or a fitness club (as in the case of my brother). The entire system is one big, fat, ugly, scam.
@10:21 - smart choice.ReplyDelete
I second 10:34's comment. Good choice. Get your welding license or something instead.
Maybe "saved souls", like 10:21, could sign your petition as well?
"I would go a bit further, I believe this issue with law schools, is the same with the entire educational system, that includes undergraduate education."ReplyDelete
That's what you get for living in a generation that neighbors the boomers. The boomers took from their parents, and they took from their kids. I would recommend the pentagon invest in zombie research, because with their track records, I wouldn't be surprised if in 40 years the boomers came back to life to take some more!