First, he asserts that complaints that what law school teaches is largely irrelevant to practice are very similar to complaints about business schools, divinity schools, schools of government and education, etc. He notes that the only medical schools escape these complaints, and suggests that modeling all other professional schools on the medical school model is both impractical and undesirable.
One thing this blog apparently hasn't emphasized enough is that I'm not claiming that the dysfunctions of law schools are somehow unique in the otherwise well-functioning world of higher education. Higher education in America right now -- and not just at professional schools -- is a mess. More than anything else it is, in the words of one of my favorite academics, the mechanism by which "the entitled become the credentialed." If, as several people have suggested to me, the MBA is becoming as big a ripoff, comparatively speaking, as the JD (I should note I know nothing about business schools), then that fact, if it is a fact, has relevance to how long law schools can continue along their present path as an economic matter, but has no relevance at all to the need to reform that path.
Zaring then points to the case of graduate creative writing programs:
There’s a lot of new law schools out there. But you know what graduate programs have been expanding even faster? Creative writing programs. Seriously (184 today, up from 15 in 1975). Those programs prepare you for nothing other than low paid teaching jobs, and they’re doing fine. If law school is a scam, what are the avidly consumed creative writing programs providing? Campos and other law school critics might try to get their heads around the MFA explosion before indicting the law school one in isolation. It could be that students get something out of graduate school other than guaranteed jobs - indeed, you might even say there is a market for "useless" post-graduate education in the United States.This is an interesting comparison, although in some ways an obviously inapt one. No one goes into an MFA program intending to make lots of money. Indeed it's notable that such programs never focus on producing successful genre writers -- i.e., the next Stephen King or John Grisham -- but are rather dedicated almost exclusively to literary fiction. Nor, as far as I know, do MFA programs engage in industry-wide placement stat deception. (Unlike business schools I know something about these programs because my best friend and his wife are graduates of one). The biggest distinction between law schools and MFA programs goes to the crucial issue of what economists call psychic income. Lots of people grow up hoping to write the Great American Novel. Nobody grows up hoping to one day be Henry Kravis's water carrier on a big M&A deal. People go to law school, with occasional exceptions, in order to acquire a respectable and well-paid career. MFA programs cater to peoples' dreams. Law school is where dreams go to die (Yes I'm generalizing).
And even if we assume that many or most MFA programs are bad deals for those who invest in them, this again hardly constitutes a defense of either MFA programs or law schools. Zaring's observes that "you might even say there is a market for 'useless' post-graduate education in the United States," and indeed you might -- but we should question whether the word "market" in these sorts of statements is doing the amount of redemptive work many market-based normative social theories seem to believe it's doing.
Zaring can't resist building a bit of a straw man when he argues that while it's clear law schools aren't perfectly efficient at pricing their services, "surely they're not totally inefficient?" Well of course they're not. The whole question is how efficient or inefficient are they right now. Zaring points out that a JD from Yale is probably still a good deal, and he implies that bottom tier schools could be a good deal if they stripped themselves down to a "no frills" model that would cost "only" 20K a year in tuition (it's a sign of how out of control costs have become that this "no frills" model is hardly less expensive than the Harvard Law School was in real dollars 25 years ago, and far more expensive than the average law school of that time, including the average private school. 25 years ago average private law school tuition was under 15K in 2011 dollars, while public resident tuition was about 3.5K). But there's an enormous gap between Yale and the "bottom tier." I get emails every day from people who graduated with good grades from top 25 schools and don't have legal jobs. Yes the plural of anecdote is not data. Well the data -- even in the distorted and heavily massaged form in which law schools release it -- is terrible.
Finally Zaring asks if law schools are such academically dubious enterprises, why do all research universities want them? (Except for Princeton interestingly. What's the matter with Princeton?) This seems to me to be a bit of a naive question for a business school professor to ask. His answer -- that law schools make universities look good because "law professors are pretty smart" and generate so much "academic energy" that they're resented by other faculty members -- strikes me as highly implausible (again, a business school professor might consider that professors with actual PhDs in the humanities and social sciences might resent resent law school professors for reasons having little to do with a sense of intellectual inferiority).
Ultimately Zaring is right to highlight that all sorts of critical questions can be asked of other parts of the university besides law schools. And he's also right that the continuing strong demand for JD degrees (a new law school opened in Nashville this week and another is opening in Fort Wayne next fall) says something compelling about the market for this particular service. I suspect that what it says, however, is something more disturbing than Zaring's glass half-full perspective suggests.
I see. So I would like to thank Mr. Zaring for my strategy next spring when I cheat on my taxes - simply tell the IRS agents who inevitably come after me that all these other guys are cheating on their taxes so its all good, right?ReplyDelete
The entire higher education system is a scam thanks to student loans ratcheting up tuition. This is a blog by a law professor whose knowledge obviously involves law schools and who did a fine job pointing out some of the important distinctions of his particular scam. Since Zaring is so concerned about MFAs I suggest he starts a blog discussing them.
Finally, I have an MBA to go along with my JD and while the MBA program was far from perfect, the things I learned were far more practical as was the teaching. And it lasted only 2 years at a cheaper rate.
And he's also right that the continuing strong demand for JD degrees (a new law school opened in Nashville this week and another is opening in Fort Wayne next fall) says something compelling about the market for this particular service. I suspect that what it says, however, is something more disturbing than Zaring's glass half-full perspective suggests.ReplyDelete
In corporate law, stockholder approval of a transaction carries no weight if the stockholders were misinformed about a material fact.
Yet another fantastic blog entry. Mr. Zaring seems to casually gloss over the differences between law schools and the other graduate-level enterprises in academia yet he then ironically and incorrectly interpreted your blog as stating that law school enjoyed some exclusive realm of academic inefficiency. Once again, thank you for your blog and so expertly pointing out the flaws in what these other "academics" are stating about your blog.ReplyDelete
No one goes into an MFA program intending to make lots of money. ... Nor, as far as I know, do MFA programs engage in industry-wide placement stat deception.ReplyDelete
Exactly. No one is under the misapprehension that an MFA will be the ticket to a comfortable income.
I posted a response to his article as lawschoolscam.ReplyDelete
Zaring sounds like another "2 years of actual work as a lawyer," (he used to work at the DOJ, which I imagine was very hard) followed by "30 years of cush bullshit work as a professor" type.ReplyDelete
It's amazing that law professors advocating for law school do not start every one of their articles with, "Full disclosure: my entire paycheck comes from the institution that I defend below." Have some intellectual honesty for Pete's sake. Especially if you're a law and BUSINESS ETHICS professor.
From Zaring's post: "really, the point is that law schools, comparatively, give their graduates something of value, and academia something of value too."ReplyDelete
If that's the point, then ... duh. No one is claiming that law schools give their students and "academia" NOTHING of value. The issue is whether what they're providing is anywhere close to being worth the cost.
Is B-school seen in the industry similarly as law school though? That is, doesn't a MBA from a top 25 school, whether Wharton or Kellog or USC or wherever, guarantee you a job at a multinational if you so choose? And aren't starting salaries as an i-banking associate or executive somewhere much higher than the starting salary in Biglaw? Because if not, I think the scam is truly universal at universities. Instead of places of higher learning, they are inefficiently run, fraudulent corporations that are criminally taking advantage of their 501(c)(3) status. It's not that law school that's a scam; it would be that higher education in America is a criminal fraud.ReplyDelete
"Exactly. No one is under the misapprehension that an MFA will be the ticket to a comfortable income."ReplyDelete
EXACTLY. French literature, MFA, history, . . . these are known to be majors that enhance you intellectually but that will not get you a job. That's fine because people don't go to those programs to get a job, and the programs never promised a job, and that is why there is no fraud in those programs.
The 501(c)(3) status from many of these universities should be REVOKED in the future after the coming 2012 student loan default crisis. There comes a point at which the NON-PROFIT status should be removed when it is obvious that these law schools are indeed PROFITING from their own fraud, and graduates' financial futures are being completely destroyed in that process.ReplyDelete
Thanks to IBR there wont be a student loan default crisis. Not sure thats a good thing however.ReplyDelete
Universities have been quasi-profiting off of student loan funds for years while taking advantage of non-profit status they enjoy. Once the default crisis really gets underway in 2012 and beyond, the government and taxpayers should revoke the ruse of "non-profit" status to call these institutions out for the PROFITEERING that these schools have been guilty of for years.ReplyDelete
Some comments I just posted to another Hurt's ridiculous defense of her profession.ReplyDelete
" I love the law, and I love learning about it and telling students about it. "
No no no no. Nice try.
If you loved the law you would be out there practicing it as an actual lawyer, and not as a professor who lives in this alternate universe that has nothing to do with what lawyers actually do. The reality is that you hate the law, but you still wanted to be paid like a lawyer, and that's why you became a law professor. You accomplish this goal by tricking poor kids into paying $40,000 to $50,000 in tuition for a degree that is worth no where near that amount.
" If you don't love law teaching, then you may be a scammer. "
The existence of a scam has nothing to do with the mindset of the alleged scammer.
Using similar logic, if as a mobster doesn't love extortion, beatings and murder, then he may be a criminal. No. That's not how it works. He is a criminal because he does those things. Similarly, you are a scammer because you chose to earn a huge salary that is funded by life crushing student loans, borrowed by poor kids who were tricked into attending your school because you posted misleading career placement statistics that promised them good jobs. That is why you are a scammer - the fact that you love what you do doesn't change anything.
Whoops, wrong link http://www.theconglomerate.org/2011/08/law-school-scams-scam-blogs-law-teaching.htmlReplyDelete
You are assuming that IBR is a static program that will remain in place.ReplyDelete
We discussed this in another thread. IBR is another entitlement and while it will be around so long as the government has the money to pay for it, that is not a certain thing. Just a month ago Obama was on the verge of cutting social security and military salaries!ReplyDelete
JD holder writing a novel here:ReplyDelete
The riskiness of an MFA is built into the process of applying for one. Very, very few MFA candidates are so dellusional as to believe that the degree, in and of itself, will in any improve their writing.
If anything, people pursue MFA's because they believe it will given them the creative space they need to develop a work, with the possibility of getting it in front of somebody that matters (editors), while credentializing them to do something which constitutes a reasonable back-up (teach creative writing).
Moreover, there's a healthy culture of skepticism among writers, editors, and publishers about the usefullness of an MFA (with the consensus veering, interestingly, towards "not at all"). The Fall cover of Poets & Writers (equivalent to US News rankings for creative writing programs) adopts the tone that many in their readership need to be convinced of the merits of even going to school for creative writing , and even then throws a bone to those who are disinclined to follow it (e.g.: Jonathan Franzen doesn't have an MFA, neither does Zadie Smith).
The Law School Industrial Complex bears none of these attributes. It's not simply that there have been an explosion in MFA programs across the board; MFA programs are exceedingly more candid about what they can actually do for the students than any law school I've seen (also, very important: they tend to enroll relatively few students compared to professional schools).
8:03, I once read that the vast, vast (i mean like 99%) of successful fiction writers received no graduate training in writing. The person who said this to me was explaining that MFA programs instill a structure into your mind that destroys your creative ability. Indeed if you look at the educations of our top fiction authors, they did not have much. The Hairy Potter writer was a homeless woman, for example.ReplyDelete
The subtext of a lot of academics' responses to this blog seems to be "no matter what we say, kids keep on enrolling in law schools, so we might as well take their money because if we don't, somebody else will."ReplyDelete
Let's try that in other contexts:
"I might as well represent the Mob, because if I don't they'll just find another lawyer who'll do so."
"I might as well file a PI complaint for this person who clearly hasn't suffered any injuries, becayse if I don't he'll just find another lawyer who will."
Exactly 8:09. These law professors are just shameless. It's like we don't see where they butter their bread.ReplyDelete
If you loved the law you would be out there practicing it as an actual lawyer, and not as a professor who lives in this alternate universe that has nothing to do with what lawyers actually do.ReplyDelete
Excellent point. This became clear to me shortly after starting law school. Most law professors (99.9% of non-adjuncts?) practiced briefly and hated it.
"Excellent point. This became clear to me shortly after starting law school. Most law professors (99.9% of non-adjuncts?) practiced briefly and hated it."ReplyDelete
Including Mr. Zaring and Ms. Hurt, based on their bios.
It's almost as bad as the late-night "get rich quick" guys on TV, whose only experience in getting rich is selling other people some bunk about getting rich.ReplyDelete
Let's not forget an MFA in creative writing is a fraction of the cost of law school, as well. And some programs (including the top programs) offer full scholarships and living stipends to students who are teaching assistants or research assistants. Even students at low-ranked MFA programs can get out of school with $40K in total tuition; and that's just looking at one example, surely there are others for cheaper.ReplyDelete
I wasn't able to see any comments on Hurt's blog.ReplyDelete
But I think its my computer.ReplyDelete
Way back in the early 1980s, I signed up for the creative-writing major at Johns Hopkins (it was called "Writing Seminars," IIRC). The guy who taught my section of the freshman creative-writing course made no bones about the fact that he thought we all stunk as writers and that we were kidding ourselves if we thought he would help us get our "work" published. (I changed my major in the middle of my freshman year.)ReplyDelete
An MFA is not a barricade to pursue what it would theoretically train you to do. I can go become a freelance writer, with or without the MFA. Perhaps it helps me get exposure, gives me space/time to wax poetic.. Whatever. Same thing for the MBA. Sure, the MBA might help me become more knowledgeable about marketing, strategy, etc. But NOT having an MBA is NOT stopping me from opening up a cupcake truck business, or launching the newest internet-based phenomenon.ReplyDelete
Instead, the only program which law schools CAN be compared to is medical school, as only those two academic models serve as a prerequisite to practice in those professions. It is not as though a JD or an MD (or DVM, DDS, etc) is simply an option designer accessory that looks pretty on my wall (as so many MFAs or other PhDs are). It is a legitimate barrier to entry, enforced by the professional organizations.
The AMA has done a good job of controlling the supply and demand. How come we can't say the same thing for the ABA? There isn't historical precedence for mandating law school... Go back to the beginning of the last century, and you will see Supreme Court Justices that did not go to law school. So why has this changed?
Prior to going to law school, I earned an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from a Big Ten school. I can say, hands down, that I received more value, more experience, and more practical knowledge from 15 months in an engineering graduate program than my 3 years of law school. Did I also mention that as an engineering graduate student, I paid no tuition. In fact, I actually received a stipend as a graduate student. I was paid to attend school.ReplyDelete
Then I entered law school only to be beat down, demoralized, and so psychologically damaged that I may never fully recover. Law school takes and takes and takes from you and gives almost nothing in return. During my 3 years of law school, I held 8 different legal positions in addition to being a member of a journal. These weren't fluff positions either. I worked for state agencies, federal agencies, professors, and even the dean of my law school. At one point I held 3 of these jobs concurrently. You know how many of them were paid? 2. Guess how many of these jobs were facilitated by the career services department? ZERO.
Unlike many of my classmates, I have my dream legal job and am doing what I went to law school to do. The firm I work for, which is small but well known for the work we do, has never even seem my law school transcript. I attribute this, however, solely to my hard work and initiative. Actually going to law school provided me with almost nothing other than opening the gate to allow me to take the bar exam. It was repetitive, unnecessarily stressful, and taught me zero of the skills which I now use on a daily basis. Hell it didn't even help me get the jobs I worked in law school which gave me the experience to get the job I wanted.
My ramble aside, I don't understand why law school don't take up a model similar to other professional graduate programs where the students and professors work side by side? RA and TA positions in law schools are, for the most part, a complete joke and they don't have to be. Law professors, by their own admission, hate grading and are always in need of research help. Law students complain about one test grading methods and teacher interaction.
One simple change can fix all of this. DO AWAY WITH SINGLE EXAM GRADING. I've heard professors complain about grading based on numerous graded assignments because of the work required to grade them. Why not hire students has TA's to do the grading for you as it is done in many many other graduate programs. This would provide jobs for the students, take grading pressure off of teachers, and would give students significantly more control over their final grades. This would also reduce stress among the students encourage more engagement with class materials and would give students a chance to apply the legal principles numerous times. In other words, students would get more practical writing and analysis experience, stress reduce by the prohibition of one test grading, and all the while professors would not have to do any additional work. Granted small stipends might be necessary for the TAs, but compared to the cost of hiring additional professors, it is a no brainer.
This change is so obvious and would be enormously beneficial to the law school experience. I can't understand why law schools have not addressed this.
At this point I'm thinking when I get my JD in less than 10 months I should forget practicing law and just open up my own explicitly for-profit law school. I'll teach all the basic bar classes myself, have actual field trips to courts, and make clinic-based work >50% of the curriculum. I'll make a mint!ReplyDelete
The AMA has done a good job of controlling the supply and demand.ReplyDelete
If anything, there aren't enough medical schools. A new med school is opening up in south Jersey this coming fall, and we needed it about two decades ago.
I think that the model of law school (or business school, or most professional schools of the like) can be sustainable and highly effective if two things are true:ReplyDelete
1. The schools produce a supply of new graduates that closely tracks the demand for new graduates
2. The schools produce sufficiently high quality graduates with needed skills
The first is obviously not true these days in the US. The fact that for several years there has been almost double the number of graduates as jobs created says this. Further, the fact that ANY law schools have opened in the past decade or ANY law school has increased enrolment shows something is seriously wrong.
The second is also becoming false as time passes. With lower ranked law schools, almost anyone with a positive LSAT score and GPA can get a law degree, even if they do not have any of the desired skills of law professionals. Even in better law schools, the fact is some graduates cannot write a coherent argument in paragraph form, nor can they logically analyze an argument for flaws. This is a major problem that goes beyond law school to be sure, but law schools are definitely part of it.
With lower ranked law schools, almost anyone with a positive LSAT score and GPA can get a law degree, even if they do not have any of the desired skills of law professionals.ReplyDelete
It's not just at the bottom-feeding Thomas Cooley's of the world. I'm at a fairly respected Tier 2 state school (respected w/in the state, anyway) and a goodly chunk of my classmates are just breathtakingly poor thinkers.
Having also attended medical school, I made the foolish assumption that my future professional colleagues in law school would be every bit as hardworking and dedicated as my med school classmates had been. Holy cow was I wrong. Even the C- schlub from my med school could've blown these law school kids out of the water, by simple virtue of a willingness to actually do the work.
Re the AMA and med schools: Unfortunately, the ABA has sold the public on the idea that "access to justice" requires having lots o' law schools pumping out lots o' baby lawyers. No one has bothered to take note of the fact that being up to our necks in lawyers has done almost nothing to bring down the cost of legal representation. But be that as it may, a push to accredit no new schools and to de-accredit the bottom schools will be painted as anti-democratic and pro-fat cat lawyers.ReplyDelete
the fact that being up to our necks in lawyers has done almost nothing to bring down the cost of legal representation.ReplyDelete
I'm not sure that's entirely true. Lots of business models have emerged/been emerging involving lower-priced legal services, and those systems sure aren't being staffed by snooty T14 grads.
"the fact that being up to our necks in lawyers has done almost nothing to bring down the cost of legal representation."ReplyDelete
How can you lower the cost of legal advice when those giving it have large monthly debt repayments to make?
Relevant TED conversation:ReplyDelete
In a world in which all videos, textbooks, interactive tutorials, etc. can be recreated at zero marginal cost, it makes no sense to charge 150K for law school. Let anyone take the bar exam and become a lawyer if they can pass it. If they can pass it, they will learn how to be a lawyer by practicing law. Problem solved.
In fact creative writing programs often improve a writer's skills to the point where publication - and not just of so-called literary fiction - becomes a reality and not an aspiration. Contrary to opinion, most writers don't get successful by writing in isolation and then one day sharing their efforts with the world.ReplyDelete
(no, I'm not in such a program, but I'm familiar with their effects.)
How can you lower the cost of legal advice when those giving it have large monthly debt repayments to make?ReplyDelete
True. It's not a shortage of lawyers that is keeping the prices of legal services where they are.
What I find most interesting about Zaring being a "business" prof. is that he doesn't understand why schools are so eager for law school programs at their university. Umm.... if something makes a huge profit and has comparatively low overhead, wouldn't that be a good "business" to be in? Remember the Dean who lost his post a few months ago because he complained that the law school was only getting to keep 33% of the profits they brought in and the rest was going to the main university? Law Schools are just like football programs -- they bring in tons of cash to the main school. Law schools make a ton of money and are therefore highly desirable. I think his arguments just illustrate how bad all higher ed in the US is. You don't need a college degree for the majority of work out there, much less a grad degree. We are not graduating masses of intellectually curious scholars -- it's a bunch of kids who wanted to have fun for 4 years on someone else's dime, put off growing up, and "find" themselves. We need to close down half the law schools, but we need to close down half the undergrads, too.ReplyDelete
My understanding of most graduate programs is that they aren't all that stressful. Business school, I've heard, is basically a two year long party. Compare this to Law School, which grinds you down so much in the first two years that its accepted by everybody that most 3L"s have no involvement in the school past attending class.ReplyDelete
Most MBA programs, outside the top ones such as Wharton, are pretty bogus. As someone with both from the same state school, I assure you that the JD program was much more rigorous.ReplyDelete
But as I explained in my recent blog post, having an MBA is usually seen as positive by employers and never worse than neutral, while the law degree is a big negative for law school graduates seeking non-legal employment.
Compare this to Law School, which grinds you down so much in the first two years that its accepted by everybody that most 3L"s have no involvement in the school past attending class.ReplyDelete
My experience must be really atypical. I worked harder in my undergrad biology and chemistry classes than I did as a 1L, the supposedly "hard" year. The only reason I can fathom that people somehow think law school is hard is because undergrad has become such an absurd joke that a school that actually demands that you do a bit of reading every day somehow becomes "an impossible grind".
It is without the slightest bit of exaggeration that I say that I studied more, both in terms of intensity and hours, for two of my upper-level undergrad bio classes (I'm remembering my 300-level Immunology and Histology courses) than I did for the entire first year of law school. Perhaps it was just because I'm at a relatively uncompetitive school, but it was easier to get a 4.2 GPA as a 1L than it was to get a B+ average in undergrad.
Well there is a HUGE difference between a science class and any social science course.ReplyDelete
That's why hard science majors are generally employable and social science majors go to law school.
"What I find most interesting about Zaring being a "business" prof. is that he doesn't understand why schools are so eager for law school programs at their university. Umm.... if something makes a huge profit and has comparatively low overhead, wouldn't that be a good "business" to be in? "ReplyDelete
He understands perfectly, and his aspiration probably is to teach at such schools.
"If anything, there aren't enough medical schools. A new med school is opening up in south Jersey this coming fall, and we needed it about two decades ago."ReplyDelete
You're wrong. Doctor's salaries are being pushed into the $70k region, and soon there will be such an oversupply that people won't want to go to medical school (unless medical schools, like law schools, start fudging their employment stats).
I finished with a 3.0 from Ohio State and I almost never studied. In one class I bragged that I never opened the casebook. I skipped class all the time, I was a complete loser. Every semester I would do nothing for 15 weeks, and then find somebody's outline and cram.ReplyDelete
I almost always got Bs, with a couple of Cs here and there, and As to offset them. I didn't feel ground down. If anything, I regret putting so little into law school. I graduated in the middle of the pack, but middle of the pack is no good.
I think the difference between a 3.0 and a 3.5 is probably about 50 million hours of studying, hence the experience of being ground down for those who make a real effort to be at the top.
Who cares who was ground down and how easy or tough law school was/is? There are no jobs and a mountain of personal non-dischargeable debt.ReplyDelete
@11:27 -- Source?ReplyDelete
Right, so the rest of my story is that I wanted to breeze through law school because I figured the median student would earn the median income, which our career services office told us was 65K. That sounded like more than enough money for me.ReplyDelete
That didn't happen.
It's even more depressing to read comments by non-lawyers/non-law students on news stories about this problem. They view all lawyers and law students as greedy SOBs and equally deserving of whatever life-ruining things happen to them.ReplyDelete
People get downright giddy in some of these NYT or WSJ comment threads about the sad fate of would-be lawyers. It makes them very happy. They smile as they say such things as: if you're too dumb to know law school was a mistake, you're too dumb to be a lawyer and you deserve 200K in non-dischargeable debt so quit complaining and pay what you owe.ReplyDelete
People have no idea what $200k in non-dischargeable debt can do to someone's life. It's not a stretch to liken it to indentured servitude. Punishments for most felonies are less onerous.ReplyDelete
Honestly as someone who went to a lower ranked schools so that my tuition was mostly covered I would like to know what some of you were thinking. I went ten years ago before blogs and articles made this problem more well known but even then we all knew that you needed to be in the top ten % (outside of the T14) to have a chance at a high paying job. Now doc review exists, tuition has gone up another ten to twenty grand a year and all this info...what the hell were you thinking?!?!ReplyDelete
I see you as victims of true scumbags....but jesus, y'all had a hand in this by going.
$200K on IBR is only $300 a month if you're making $40K per year and only $50 per month if you're making $20K per year. It's not great, but you can certainly survive on that.ReplyDelete
Grad PLUS loans are included in IBR too right?
1:32, If you're a 0L planning on law school based on that calculation, a few things:ReplyDelete
1. IBR loans show up on your credit, thus foreclosing any future car or home loans. Nobody is going to loan you money when you make $40k and have $200k of debt.
2. IBR creates taxable income upon discharge.
3. IBR is not guaranteed. A few months ago the president was about to cancel social security and military wage checks! Think IBR is more important than those things?
"My experience must be really atypical. I worked harder in my undergrad biology and chemistry classes than I did as a 1L, the supposedly "hard" year."ReplyDelete
I hear you and I agree. I finished my JD and stayed a fourth year to wrap up my MPH. That fourth year in Public Health school involved at least 3x more studying than I did 1L Year. At Public Health school I was literally studying until 11PM or midnight every night - Epidemiology, Biostats, etc. Throw in recitation, study groups, journal/MMWR club and time spent in the SAS lab, and there is simply no comparison between law school and other programs. Having been a history major in undergrad, I was literally swimming in the "deep end" taking biostats and epi courses with preventive medicine residents, doctoral candidates and practicing physicians/dentists/nurses.
I did well in law school. I made the law review, won an award at graduation, etc., but it was a cake walk compared to my MPH. In fact, I look back on my 1L year as one of the most enjoyable years of my life - I was getting the GI Bill and NYS unemployment the entire year - $2,700 a month just for going to school!
Idea as potential problem solver: in person interviews a la med school as a prerequisite to admission. Would give schools an opportunity to vet the individual for skills and would probably deter a great deal of aspies who end up in this profession.ReplyDelete
I graduated in 2009. I agree it would be beyond stupid for any 0L to go to law school intending to use IBR. My point was only that it doesn't seem so terrible for the people that have IBR.
You could probably get a car loan with a significant down payment as they look at monthly payment moreso than leverage. On 40K per year you probably won't be buying a very expensive car anyways. Also, you probably couldn't get a mortgage for a house with $40K of income even without the debt.
IBR forgiveness is not taxable for those taking the government/nonprofit route per an IRS. Also mortgages only really take in to account your debt payments not your total. At least that's how I qualified for one last year with $120k in student loans.
Per an IRS ruling that is. I got a non-legal job with the government and again as long as it isn't dumped by the GOP, IBR will be my salvation in 8.5 years. You could be collecting trash for 10 years and have your loans forgiven...ReplyDelete
"Idea as potential problem solver: in person interviews a la med school as a prerequisite to admission. Would give schools an opportunity to vet the individual for skills and would probably deter a great deal of aspies who end up in this profession."
I know what you're trying to say here, but speaking as a person with a disability (Cerebral Palsy) who practices in the area of disability discrimination law; ignorant comments like this are why lawyers with disabilities have just as bleak employment outcomes as the 70% of people with disabilities in the national economy who are jobless at any given time.
This is like comparing shit sandwiches.ReplyDelete
Wow, read this from the WSJ.ReplyDelete
"There are 64 open jobs in occupational therapy for every 100 working in the field, the site's data show. Yet online job listings for these positions get 50 times fewer clicks than the hardest-to-place industry -- the legal field. Meanwhile, unemployed lawyers now find themselves in the country's most cutthroat race for a job, with less than one opening for every 100 working attorneys. "
"Is B-school seen in the industry similarly as law school though? That is, doesn't a MBA from a top 25 school, whether Wharton or Kellog or USC or wherever, guarantee you a job at a multinational if you so choose?"ReplyDelete
Keep in mind that a lot of people that get MBAs are enrolled in evening classes so they're usually still working while pursuing their degree. Worst case they keep the same job.ReplyDelete
What kind of a statistic is "one opening for every 100 working attorneys" ?ReplyDelete
The 100 working attorneys don't need a job.
9:02, it's a measure of demand for new lawyers. In the job of occupational therapy, since there is 1 job opening for every two OTs, there is huge demand. In the law, where there is 1 job opening for every 100 OTs, there is almost no demand.ReplyDelete
But you're right that a better measure would be "job openings per number of unemployed lawyers."
in the meantime, top law firms salaries are up to 175...ReplyDelete
Did some firms raise to 175k?ReplyDelete
@11:27am, I haven't seen any data suggesting that doctors' salaries are decreasing. In fact, I have seen evidence that those salaries are going up. My best friend in TX, who is an ER doctor, just got out of residency in 2010 and is now making $275K/yr in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Which doctors are you referring to that only make $70K? I know family practice doctors generally don't make as much as other doctors, but I have never met one in Texas that makes less than 130K. Are you using Northeast salaries as your example? You guys are taxed like crazy; therefore, I wouldn't be surprised.ReplyDelete
Yes 11:24 I'm referring to big cities. I've heard salaries in backwoods areas are much higher because no one wants to work there (not that Dallas would be such an area).ReplyDelete
35 year physician here (pediatric intensive care). I've seen no data (or anecdotes) that salaries are decreasing overall. I think they will ultimately, though. The most fair way would be to whack the high-flying salaries (orthopedics, radiology, anesthesiology, various others), which are preposterously high. In general, urban salaries are higher than rural ones.ReplyDelete
Fascinating blog and discussion. The most telling thing to me about the atmosphere is that everyone posts as anonymous.
Doctors are having the problem with exploding student loans, however. My sister owes about 300K.ReplyDelete
She makes a good salary and can afford to service the debt, but it's still very burdensome. For one thing, she absolutely must continue to make that high salary for years (decades?) in the future. She can't quit and become a high school biology teacher or some other downgrade that trades big money for quality of life. She is an indentured servant in the same way that lawyers are.
The residency period is another issue. They do the majority of the work at the hospital, but are paid close to nothing for 4 years. There is opportunity cost there. The total investment put into becoming a big-salaried doctor is huge. And it defines the course of their life forever.
"In general, urban salaries are higher than rural ones."ReplyDelete
You're dead wrong about this. There are doctors who can't get jobs in big cities like LA and NY. It's no where near as bad as the law but an MD is not a guarantee to a $170,000 job after residency (if you can get a residency).
"35 year physician here"ReplyDelete
This might be the problem Dr. Johnson. You might want to call a local med school, get a list of graduates and contact information and do a little survey. It would be very enlightening to you. Again, it's no where near as bad as the job situation in law, but there are lots and lots of doctors making $70k to $130k who feel underpaid, and there are some (a few) doctors who can't get jobs.
P.S. My information is from a survey of about 12 doctors my age (late 20s to mid 30s).ReplyDelete
Yes, what is very much needed in these discussion is data. Surveys of friends are interesting and informative, but aren't really enough to give an accurate picture of the situations people are describing. I know this is a blog and it's an informal discussion, but it is odd for a profession that depends upon research and information that so little of that is actually offered here.ReplyDelete
Yes, that's fair 12:49, make a controversial statement and then criticize those who attempt to correct you by pointing to their lack of perfect and comprehensive data.ReplyDelete
I didn't make the statement you are referring to. I was just observing the conversation and noted that there are probably answers to the questions people are talking about in this thread and others. I guess that's the problem with all of us being anonymous.ReplyDelete
Oh Dear God:ReplyDelete
Reading all of this, and the comments, sounds like impending doom for a Nation.
Oh God! Where is all of this headed?
The US is in deep, deep debt, and here we are, with a Wharton school whatever, wakened from his summer dreams...to talk about what?
Oh Dear God! I am so deeply indebted with Student Loan Debt, and my very soul is split in two, and I can only hope for a better life in the hereafter,
if it even exists.
May God help us all, and may God Bless a failing America.
An America that has, and is continuing to fail its studnts.
and the teachers are all lined up at the trough, like pigs, feeding on student loans and the taxpayer teat, saying:
"Gimme, gimme! My name is Jimmy!"
It's pretty hard to generalize about physicians because the specialties are so different. All I can say is that in my own field of pediatric intensive care we have 2 jobs chasing every person -- it took me a year to recruit a new colleague, for example. And I know we had to offer more money because positions in big cities pay better, at least in my field.
In pediatrics generally there are many open positions looking. (I could hook up a candidate with an interview next week if you know anybody -- we're looking for 2 general pediatricians.) And nearly all medical school graduates get a residency somewhere -- maybe not in what their first choice was or where they want to be -- but they find them. Hospitals that can't fill their programs do so with foreign medical grads.
I suppose my point is that if you're a new physician willing to move from where you are, there are jobs in all fields I know of.
One other thing is worth mentioning when comparing the two professions: getting a medical license in another state just takes a couple of months and some paperwork. Do the bar requirements make this a very difficult thing to do for a lawyer?
That's good to know. Out of curiosity, what does the general pediatrician position pay? How about the intensive care pediatrician position? (Does the latter position require special training and experience?)
"Getting a medical license in another state just takes a couple of months and some paperwork. Do the bar requirements make this a very difficult thing to do for a lawyer?"
It depends on which state you are coming from, and which you are going to. If you are coming from California, you pretty much have to retake the bar to move to any other state. Very strange rule I know.
But I am glad to hear students who finish medical school can still pretty easily get jobs as lawyers. It's simply unfair to put someone through all of that and not have them get a job. My friends just complain that what they make (which ranges from as low as 70ish to low 100s) isn't enough in light of the loans they had to take out, but they don't really work that much. One works these two very long shifts and has the rest of the week off. The other works pretty much 9 to 5 and doesn't take work home. They have a higher quality of life than lawyers I would opine.
*pretty easily get jobs as doctors.ReplyDelete
And to be fair, I know one recent doctor who claims he made $400k right out of residency.ReplyDelete
I heard that if Obamacare finally gets implemented, it'll suppress revenue going into the medical industry which will suppress doctor salaries.ReplyDelete
Doc salaries do vary hugely, as you know -- rural/urban, specialty choice, private practice/academic, other things.ReplyDelete
To answer your question, in my part of the country a general pediatrician will start at 110-130,000. What I do is a subspecialty. That means more training, called fellowship, beyond the first residency. For most of them -- cardiology, neonatology, hematology, etc. -- that means 3 years beyond the initial 3 year pediatric residency (or internal medicine if you did that first). I'm a little uncomfortable telling you what my salary is on a blog, but I make quite a bit more than that.
One other point about the job market in my world. Like you, we've got a pecking order of medical schools and that will affect what residency you can get, and what residency you get (there's a hierarchy there, too) will affect who will interview for a job. So if your CV isn't solid to top drawer you probably won't get a job in a fancy place. And if you went to a private medical school and borrowed it all you'll have a debt like a new lawyer, and that will affect your life choices, such as what specialty you choose. But you will get a job.
I've been on both sides of the training equation: 20 years as a professor at what you guys would term a top tier med school, during which I spent 4 years on the admission committee, now private practice for over a decade and member of our recruiting committee.
Thanks. That is interesting information. $110k to $130 sounds right for the starting salaries of pediatricians I know in NY. One complaint I've heard, though, is that pediatricians haven't gotten raises for the past 10 years. At one woman's health group, the starting salary today is the exact same salary they were paying in 1999, which is only $10,000 more than what they were paying in 1993! Again this is just anecdotal and doesn't necessarily mean anything about the profession, but it was an amazing bit of information.ReplyDelete
I just checked your bio and see you are affiliated in some manner with the Mayo Clinic, which is like WLRK of medicine I imagine. (WLRK is a very prestigious wall street law firm).ReplyDelete
Yes, I was at Mayo for a couple of decades. It finally got a little too big for me, though. But if you're sick it's a good place to be.
I'm really quite disturbed by all I've read on this useful blog. I had no idea. It really is bordering on fraud to mislead so many young people. And I really don't understand the cost. Medical schools have huge fixed costs that I don't see law schools having. Medical school faculty members, at least at the junior and mid-level, also work quite hard at what they do.
"It really is bordering on fraud to mislead so many young people."ReplyDelete
Yep. Culinary school is probably just as bad.
Did you see this in the WSJ?ReplyDelete
There is less than one opening for every 100 working attorneys. An earlier version of this story said there is less than one opening for every working attorney.
With no graduate degree, and the corresponding debt, you can get countless jobs in the healthcare and software/IT industry.
I'd love to hear the excuses a professor gives for why this kind of market-based reality can just be shrugged off.
Regarding the need for data in this conversation: I think a large part of the problem is that we don't actually have very good data, yet. We have bad data, provided by the law schools, and anecdotal experience is waking people up as to exactly why and how that data is bad. Good data, I think, would mean knowing precise outcomes for graduates, including precise information about their job (temporary, doc review, JD required, etc) and their salary. To my knowledge, nobody has this data. The law schools infamously fail to collect salary information on a large % of their graduates, leading them to report what data they do collect in a misleading way.ReplyDelete
I wonder where that bimodal salary graph came from. Everybody has seen that by now, but who made it and how? That would be interesting to know.
I'm hoping that somebody now conducts a proper study, perhaps for a law review article.
Perhaps THIS is why there are so many people applying to law school:ReplyDelete
"MEANWHILE, modest jobs mean modest lives. Benjamin Shore, 23, graduated from the University of Maryland last year with a business degree and planned to go into consulting. Instead, he moved back into his parents’ house in Cherry Hill, N.J., and spent his days browsing for jobs online. But when his parents started charging him $500 a month for rent, he moved into a windowless room in a Baltimore row house and took a $12-an-hour job at a Baltimore call center, making calls for a university, encouraging prospects to go back to school. “There’s no point in being diplomatic: it is horrible,” Mr. Shore said. "
That's from this Aug 31, 2011 NYT article about the miserable lives of college grads in Obama's America. Do you think this kid wouldn't jump at the chance to borrow $200k or law school, regardless of whether there is a job on the other side?
@ 5:26 am: I spend a lot of my time trying to talk college graduates in that position out of borrowing $150K to go to law school. I don't blame them for wanting a way out. But the ugly reality is that they could find themselves back in the same windowless box, working the same $12/hour job, only now they have huge debt payments.ReplyDelete
7:29, Exactly, so worse case worst they wind up where they started. What's the risk?ReplyDelete
7:29, Exactly, so worse case worst they wind up where they started. What's the risk?ReplyDelete
Having $200k in nondischargeable debt is not winding up where one started. It is winding up much worse off than where one started.
9:19, You assume they don't already have crushing debt from four years of undergrad.ReplyDelete
8:15, Yes I think it's time that Obama owns his term.
There's an article from this week's Economist that may make the law schools happy, misleading though it is:ReplyDelete
Barriers to entry in the legal profession
Not enough lawyers?
Lawyers keep their numbers carefully pruned, pushing up costs
@7:36 and 10:18 -- yes, I think they are worse off if they end up where they started with 2X the debt. I'm not always successful at convincing people not to go, though.ReplyDelete
@4:03--I've seen several articles along those lines lately. I think they originate from outsiders to law who want to invest in/own law firms and are currently prohibited from doing so. They may very well win the day -- I'm sure there are Big Law partners who would love the thought of an IPO . . .
Commenters here really are idiots.ReplyDelete
The OP identifies Zaring as a prof at Penn's B-school.
One idiot commenter writes:
"It's amazing that law professors advocating for law school do not start every one of their articles with, "Full disclosure: my entire paycheck comes from the institution that I defend below." Have some intellectual honesty for Pete's sake. Especially if you're a law and BUSINESS ETHICS professor."
Let's repeat. Zaring does not work at a law school. He works at a B-school.
Another idiot commenter writes:
"his aspiration probably is to teach at such schools."
Zaring has already done that, as you can see from his easily-available online bio. (http://lgst.wharton.upenn.edu/people/faculty.cfm?id=1160) He lateraled from W&L Law School to Wharton.
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