Tuesday, March 20, 2012

All down the line

Yesterday LSAC announced the total number of LSAT tests administered for this admissions cycle was down 16.2% from last year, from 150,050 to 129,925.  BTW this does not mean this many people took the LSAT, since multiple test-taking within the same cycle has become very common over the past few years, ever since LSAC stopped averaging multiple scores, thus allowing schools to report an applicant's highest score for the purpose of preserving their precious medians.

We can pretty confidentially extrapolate the total number of applicants in this cycle from the number of LSATs administered, since that ratio was 50.8% in both 2010 and 2011.  So we should anticipate about 66,000 law school applicants this cycle, which would represent nearly a 25% decline in the course of the past two years.

These numbers would wreak havoc with law school admissions if law schools kept their admissions standards constant.  Two years ago 69% of applicants were admitted to at least one school, and 18% of admitted applicants didn't end up enrolling (2010 is the most recent year for which these percentages are available).  Retaining those ratios would yield a total of 37,300 matriculants for this year's class at ABA schools, i.e., a shortfall of about 27.5% relative to the total 2011 entering class.

Since large numbers of lower-tier schools, which are heavily tuition-dependent, could not reduce the size of their classes on anything like that scale without wrecking their balance sheets, they will engage in some combination of cutting admissions standards, decreasing class size more modestly, and cutting their operating budgets.  This will especially be the case at the 20 or so proprietary ABA schools who can't ask central university administration for a break on the skim, that is, the portion of law school revenue extracted by central for the law school's share of general university expenses -- this is a legitimate operating expense like any other -- and, more controversially, for cross-subsidization of other university programs (the extent to which such cross-subsidization takes place appears to vary widely across universities, and there are indications it's declining as law schools come under increasing financial pressure).

It seems unlikely that any of this will have any immediate fiscal effect on elite schools, where demand for admission will remain relatively high -- this article quotes Michigan's admissions director to the effect that applications are down only five percent this year, although it should be unnecessary to emphasize that anything such people say needs at this point to be taken with a pillar of salt -- and whose budgets are not as tuition-driven as those of lesser schools.  Hence the elites are for the present likely to continue the grotesque spending spree they've indulged in over the past decade in particular, thus putting continuing pressure on the sub-elites to do the same, and so forth on down the line.

But at some point down that line a harsh fiscal reality is already kicking in for schools that aspire to be a homeless person's Harvard.  And it seems likely that point in the line is going to be moving up the law school hierarchy at a brisk pace.


  1. Let's hope so. While not Kony, this is a humanitarian disaster that needs to end.

  2. LawProf: What would be your take on a law school that is in the Top 50, but whose local competitors are higher up in the rankings? Do you think that kind of scale will come into play in affecting enrollments and all that follows in terms of rankings? Or will it be stand alone where you are in USNWR?

  3. a 25% drop in applicants means either a 25% drop in total seats or unhealthy dilution of talent.

    let's start with pulling accreditation from any law school whose bar passage rate dips under 60%.

  4. I work at a lower-tier law school on a University campus. Our Provost recently told us that we are to maintain our entering class size even if it is at the expense of the quality of students. I suspect the same thing is happening at most other law schools.

  5. "a homeless person's Harvard..."?

  6. Did anyone else catch the pathetically weak interview on Marketwatch/NPR this morning? They interviewed Dean Baker from Penn and threw him all kinds of softballs. Baker said that he thought the cost of tuition at SOME schools would need to come down - but of course, one surmises, not Penn.

    Nowhere in the report was it mentioned that, practically speaking, 50% of the graduates from law school are unemployed.

  7. @ E. A. Shmoe,

    I think a bunker scene "Downfall" style parody of a law school dean trying to maintain the the entering class is about due.

  8. @ "Edgar Allan Schmoe,"

    I am not surprised that these profitable businesses enterprises - masquerading as non-profit, institutions of "higher education" - are going this route. However, I am slightly surprised that a provost or high-ranking university official would state this publicly, even it was only uttered during a faculty meeting.

    LawProf is correct in pointing out that these dung pits will simply lower admissions standards. A while back, there was some noise about the ABA considering allowing schools to admit students without calculating the LSAT scores. While the top schools will rely on this metric, what is to prevent a bunch of students with 3.7 GPAs in Pottery from enrolling in law school - and incurring monstrous non-dischargeable debt?

  9. "a homeless person's Harvard..."?

    Harvard Prices.

    Homeless Outcomes.

    Maybe homeless inputs, if the pool of housed applicants dries up.

    Cooley Law school.

  10. The question now is will the practicing bar lower standards to accommodate the lower LSAT scores of the students. If applications return to 96'-01' levels or below (and since law schools are getting hammered by negative publicity and more people are strategically using retakes I have no doubt they could) will the schools be able to pressure the bar to decrease standards so they can maintain accreditation? If they don't I see a civil rights suit in the future (no doubt egged on by the academics and deans in the interest of accessibility).

  11. @ "Terry Malloy"-- that makes no sense. Schools don't "aspire" to be what you are describing.

  12. Lol. Someone brought up Kony. Lol again… And don’t forget people; pizza is a vegetable.

  13. 66,000 is still more than enough to full seats and pay huge salaries.

  14. 37,300 matriculants?

    Aren't there about 55,000 1L seats?

    Am I misunderstanding this? Is it possible that some law schools will have empty seats this fall?

  15. "....will the schools be able to pressure the bar to decrease standards so they can maintain accreditation?"

    I cannot speak for other states, however, I can assure you that my state will not budge an inch on this. Why should they? It is not the State Bar's duty to bail out the law schools after they have flooded the market. My particular state is very protectionist and will continue to divert the oversupply of lawyers to other states. We have actually had a substantial decrease in bar takers even as the number of graduates has gone up. I thank God every day that I practice in the state that I do.

  16. What state do you practice in, 8:48?

  17. I keep reading this morning about how Paul Ryan's budget proposal will impact student loans, but can't find any specifics. Does anyone have a link to what he's proposing?

  18. Did anyone else catch the pathetically weak interview on Marketwatch/NPR this morning?

    I did. I cannot believe that one of the interviewer's questions was, IIRC, "Do you think any problem will be caused by fewer people becoming lawyers?" Are TPTB really this much out of touch?

  19. 8:59,

    I would rather not say. I can't imagine many states have had a decrease in bar applicants in recent years. If one wanted to dig around, you could probably figure it out.

    My larger point is that with law schools essentially selling out the profession, it should not become the duty of the State Bar's to protect the profession by more closely guarding entry to the profession. My state has a very low bar pass rate and a rigorous C&F process. If Fourth Tier schools are going to admit literally anyone who took the LSAT, which they will need to do to stay in business, then State Bar's need to be sure that the bar exams are able to weed out the people that the law schools did not. This means that bar pass rates should go down overall.

  20. 9:06- i like it, and as that happens, schools that show very poorly at the bar exams should lose their accreditation. even if they don't, one would think the negative pub of 33% bar passage (looking at you TJSL) would significantly undermine efforts to fill seats and keep the gravy train chugging along.

    but all this talk is only going to help future students. current ones, and ones applying in the next 3ish years, are just screwed?

  21. 9:06 I do not see the reason for secrecy. There is no way to assess (interpret) what you are saying.

  22. @9:06: I agree with everything you said. However, you've got to stop using apostrophes on your plural nouns. It makes my head hurt!

  23. My apologies to all the reader's of the board.


  24. 9:21 here, @9:06 Thank's

  25. "I think a bunker scene "Downfall" style parody of a law school dean trying to maintain the the entering class is about due."

    That's because you're an idiot who posts cliche and uninteresting crap on this blog.

  26. I, for one, would love to see that "Downfall" parody of the law school dean in the bunker. Someone get on that!

  27. @6:22: "a 25% drop in applicants means either a 25% drop in total seats or unhealthy dilution of talent."

    Compared to last year, the average 25th percentile LSAT for entering students dropped .1 point, the average 75th percentile LSAT dropped .09 points.

    Average 25th percentile GPA dropped .0005, and the 75th dropped .0059.

  28. 3 of the T14 posted drops in their LSAT 25/75 stats, none had gains.

    The highest ranked school to improve it's LSAT numbers was Indiana Bloomington (#26), and the second highest was Southern Methodist (#51).

  29. BL1Y- i'm the one you quoted at 9:56. it's not for me to know if those losses are statistically significant. i'm guessing they aren't. but it's my hope that the drop this year is a trend; and, aggregating over time, the trend's impact will really be felt next year and in following years.

  30. That's because you're an idiot who posts cliche and uninteresting crap on this blog.

    I also have a tumblr of kitten photos with zany captions.

    Don't hate.

  31. Regarding the (lack of a) drop in t14 numbers, didn't a few schools use the record number of applicants to increase class sizes beyond historical ranges (Class of 2013), then pull back to their historical class size this past year (Class of 2014)? The drop in last year's applications really was just a return to normal; it is this year's drop that is the beginning of below "normal" levels of applicants.

  32. I, for one, would love to see that "Downfall" parody of the law school dean in the bunker.

    Same here!

  33. Maybe one of those Hitler parody videos, where Hitler is the law school dean looking at the application figures. "You must admit them all!"

  34. 10:44 is right. This is being written of as if the high numbers were the "normal" numbers. It's the same reaction that people had (actually is related to) the period when firms were hiring way more people than they had ever hired, or should ever have hired. Then when the correction started to come, people acted as if there had been some breach of faith, or that the "normal" routine had been interrupted.

  35. 10:57: There were more law school *applicants* in 2002 than there were in 2010 (for about 20% fewer spots). The only thing that was unusually high in 2010 was the number of LSATs administered, which was a product of rule changes, rather than a larger applicant pool.


  36. Calling his admission administrators traitors.

    Delusional Claims that the Admittance of a Friend's logic game prodigy son will save the LSAT average (He's only 15 and in middle school).

    His wife sobbing as her late model Mercedes is repossessed.

  37. So, the applications are falling and will likely return to 1990s levels?

  38. As John Stuart Mill said:

    If some Nero or Domitian were to require a hundred persons to run a race for their lives, on the condition that the fifty or twenty who came in hindmost should be put to death, it would not be any diminution of the injustice that the strongest or nimblest would, except through some untoward accident, be certain to escape. The misery and the crime would be that any were put to death at all.

  39. 10:44 here; fair enough point, but I think we need to wait to see the applications data--as LSAT blog notes, there was a rule change this year that would tend to favor cancellations rather than takes (allowing last minute cancels)--making the assumption that we could use the '10 and '11 ratios more suspect--so the ratio of takes/applications might change. I'm sure there is some drop in applicants but the real figures are probably still too much in the air.

  40. I think far too many people are using LSAT scores as some sort of metric for the quality of students being accepted. To this day I've never heard any compelling evidence that the LSAT is a good gauge of anything other than how good you are at taking the LSAT. When I was at my TTT average LSAT scores were in the mid 150's and my classmates generally struck me as being as competent as anywhere else. Indeed being in the DC area I was often surprised at how little students from nearby, higher ranked schools knew in comparison when it came to basics about the law in the geographic region where they'd likely practice.

    I think bar passage rates are a better indicator but even then I have the feeling most people capable of passing the bar could forgo law school altogether and do it with BarBri.

    This isn't to say I favor a total race to the bottom regarding standards, I'm just not sure that the standards currently in use mean all that much to begin with. The problems this blog discusses strike me as much more rooted in a middle class culture still harboring unrealistic beliefs about what having a JD means (with plenty of encouragement from the schools and the ABA) as well as structural problems in the economy and higher education generally. I don't think too many stupid people being let into law school is much of a contributor to how many unemployed lawyers we have.

  41. http://www.lsac.org/LSACResources/Data/LSAC-volume-summary.asp

    ... and these being the relevant figures LawProf is alluding to.

  42. 150s LSAT scorer: The LSAT doesn't test how much law you know and there is no reason to assume higher ranked schools would test as much of the relevant law as your TTT school (for better or worse). But it surely measures, however imperfectly, a capacity for reasoning/reading comprehension/ability to spot faulty arguments under time conditions. The proven correlation between LSAT scores and 1L grades suggests it is measuring something.

  43. 10:57 here, as per 10:44, we really do not yet know what is going to happen. But that is almost always the case.

  44. 11:35: The LSAT actually does have a correlation with bar passage rates. If you have below a certain LSAT score your chances of passing the bar even going to a "bar prep" law school diminish considerably. And if law schools do not want to decrease class sizes- they WILL soon be admitting people with 140s and 130s.

    That doesn't mean that some people who don't score 160 or above can't be great lawyers. At some point you have to cut off the supply. And people forget that the low LSAT scorers, if they really want to go to law school, can always work for a year and take the exam again. The LSAT is a very learnable test. I think the system would benefit from a philosophy that people should wait until their credentials are good enough for a good school/scholarship instead of just running off to the first TTT that accepts them.

  45. Do we know anything about the people who are not taking the LSAT? Most posts here seem to assume that the 16.2% is a random cross-section of potential law students, but I don't see anything proving that. It's a reasonably likely outcome, but not the only one that has to be the case.

    Perhaps students who aren't scoring well on the practice tests are backing out. Maybe students who don't think they have a shot at good schools in general are deciding not even to try. On the other hand, maybe it's the students toward the top of the curve that are not going due to better opportunities, more knowledge of the situation, or some other reason.

    Ultimately, the LSAT scores of a lot of law schools will probably drop due to it being a scaled test, but that doesn't mean the quality of students taking that exam is necessarily better or worse.

  46. I'm always amused by how many people think the LSAT is irrelevant. Yes, what could logical reasoning and reading comprehension ever have to do with law school or legal practice?

    To the people who complain that it's meaningless because it just measures how many "LSAT tricks" you learned ...why not learn them yourself? And if you are either incapable or unwilling to learn for a very important test, then doesn't that say something about you that a law school would be very interested in hearing?

  47. 11:35 here,

    To 11:42 and bored3L, I agree that it may be measuring something and maybe that something has some overlap with the pseudo-Socratic dialogue and issue-spotting exercises that characterize the first year of law school. My view, however, is that (with the possible exception of learning to think on your feet) these things aren't particularly related to what makes a good lawyer and that's what the focus of law school needs to be; producing good lawyers. In my view the LSAT is at best a problematic metric for determining how a student will do in an academic setting that doesn't sufficiently prepare people for what day to day practice is actually like.

    Of course I'm of the opinion that the current legal education model needs to be scrapped for a shorter, cheaper clinical version that's more honest about its purpose and modest about what it promises. I only actually practiced for a brief period (I currently work in contracts for corporate in-house counsel) but from that experience I can say that being good at little logic games were about as relevant to managing a case load and dealing with clients as milking a cow.

  48. @11:42
    "But it surely measures, however imperfectly, a capacity for reasoning/reading comprehension/ability to spot faulty arguments under time conditions."

    In a broad sense perhaps -- there is probably a difference between a 140 and a 180. I'm not nearly so convinced that there's a difference, let alone a consistent one, between a 165 and a 180. But that's the difference between Yale & a job, and being out of the T30. Absurd.

    As you say, it's a very teachable test; in my opinion, it's being given entirely too much weight & credited with far more precision than it has.

    "The proven correlation between LSAT scores and 1L grades suggests it is measuring something."

    Really? I haven't seen the studies you're referring to, though I'll assume that you mean within a given class at a particular school across institutions, higher LSAT scores correlate with higher grades.
    In any case, LawProf has done a couple of posts talking about the arbitrariness of 1L grading, particularly that based on a single test. I could easily see any correlation coming down to one of: (1) LSAT score is a proxy for work ethic (questionable); (2) LSAT is a proxy for social-class markers that also influence 1L grades; (3) LSAT scores are a proxy for performance on single-administration high-stakes testing (a la the "one timed final" grading model), or some combination thereof. (1) excepted, these would serve more to indict law schools further than to vindicate the LSAT, imo.

  49. I think the problem with dumping the LSAT has always been- what else is there? Grades? There are many more law school applicants with 3.7-4.0s than there are law school slots. Work experience? Too qualitative. Extracurriculars? Everyone has those beginning in high school (at least the kids who didn't have full time jobs) UG Institution? If you think being upper-middle class helps you get a high LSAT score, this isn't the best metric to consider.

    And asking admissions offices to actually subjectively evaluate the totality of an application when they receive tens of thousands of applications each year is simply impossible. Very few people have truly unique life backgrounds and work experiences and those people can usually fit in the bottom 25th percentile of most law school classes now so the scores won't affect the USNWR ranking.

    Maybe the LSAT should be restructured. But you'll still have things you can't test. The skills needed to be a good lawyer vary by practice area- you have small town practicioners, plaintiff's lawyers whose main skill is business generation and advertising, trial lawyers/prosecutors, government lawyers making policy, and big firm associates churning research memos and documents. There's no way you could design an entrance exam to test every facet of law practice.

    "Of course I'm of the opinion that the current legal education model needs to be scrapped for a shorter, cheaper clinical version that's more honest about its purpose and modest about what it promises."

    I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. My law school (CLS) sometimes seems like a conduit between LSAT/GPA scores and big firms. That is, it vets the raw material (high LSAT/GPA students) for large firms so they and their clients can be sure they are getting the smartest, hardest working associates based on the best information available in an imperfect system. For truly elite firms it adds another level of vetting, so 1L grades become the primary determinant even though those are imperfect as well. The problem is that every law school operates on that model even if 5 or 10% of their grads go to big firms or other high status legal employers. This really needs to change.

  50. LSAT, like the SAT is a poor measure of anything.

    I scored a 152 on my first practice LSAT. I spent $1000 an LSAT prep class and my final practice LSAT score was 172. My actual LSAT score was 164.

    I went to a T20 and pretty much every one of my classmates took an LSAT prep class. I know several people who went to a T100 in the same city and none of them took an LSAT prep class.

    I would bet that the only difference between me and them was that I had the time and money to spend $1K on LSAT prep. Basically, for $1K, I bought myself 30 spots in the rankings. I am not so deluded to think this reflects my intellectual ability in any way.

  51. By 30 spots I, of course, meant 80 spots.

  52. Honestly you don't even need a prep class. A hundred or so bucks in official LSAT exams and the Powerscore Logic Games bibles and a few hours every other night for a semester is pretty solid prep. You can almost memorize the questions by rote if you do enough of them.

  53. LP, you've probably already seen this, but in case you haven't -


  54. There must be indicators of who should be accepted to a given college/law school. Those indicators will never give precise or perfect information, but schools work with what they are given. Grades alone are not enough because the quality of schools varies so widely. It's good to have the LSATs to go along with grades. Then you add personal experiences as a third component. The problem, of course, is that schools overvalue the LSATs. But that is better than just relying on grades alone.

  55. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/03/pop-goes-the-law-school-bubble/254792/

  56. 4th Turning.............BITCHEZ !!!!!!!!111

  57. I see two courses of action for the lower tier schools:

    1. Pretend everything is o.k. Cut admissions standards in order to fill the class. Some of the newer schools and/or schools with shiny new facilities won't have a choice--they have bills to pay. Some that are seeking provisional accreditation may very well not make it, and get the treatment that Lincoln Memorial got last year.

    2. Cut class sizes and thus faculty size. Replace some full-time faculty with adjuncts. Cut out the "Law and..." classes and bulk up on clincs.

    Wouldn't it be ironic if those in the latter scenario saw their bar pass rates, (actual)employment rates rise with fewer of the low end scorers that never belonged in the first place?

    Schools in the first category are kicking the can down the road for three years, gambling everything that greater transparency doesn't come, or that the ABA won't ding them for falling admissions standards/bar passage rates.

  58. "So no, it's no the economy. It's more likely that the bad press surrounding the legal academy and the job market for young attorneys is taking its toll. About 45,000 new JDs will still graduate this year, and that will still probably be too many. But we're seeing the early stages of a course correction. The kids are, thankfully, listening."

    Keep up the good work. Another year or two of declines like this and the expensive lower tier schools are going to be in serious trouble.

  59. Cutting admissions standards may turn out to be a good thing. It will allow more minorities to attend law school. They are not enough attorneys for the poor.

  60. Or they could cut tuition and make themselves more attractive to some students.

  61. The Mark Of Gideon:

    WARNING! If you go here to @35 seconds, it will give you a sense of how many lawyers have been, and continue, to be cranked out. They are now overpopulating the USA, the Earth and Outer Space:


  62. Bored3L: To answer the "what else is there?" question, I have two proposals:

    (1) Instead of the LSAT, require 4 LSATs, and students use their average score. This makes the score more predictive, as it at least eliminates flukes. It also creates a hurdle to entry. I don't mean that in the way scambloggers want to toss up hurdles just to reduce the number of law school applicants. I mean that if you're looking at what makes for a good law student and lawyer, 4 LSATs begin to test your ability to prepare for a test over and over and keep up a high standard of quality. It's a test of your ability to commit.

    (2) A baby MBE. Test really basic legal knowledge. Recite the elements of a contract, stuff like that. Not deeper policy issues, not the hard questions, just the basics. Your ability to learn all that is probably a good measure of your aptitude for law. Or, more accurately, an inability to master it is a clear sign that you should not be admitted. It wouldn't distinguish the top students from the middle very well, but would reveal the bottom quite clearly.

    It would have the added advantage of ensuring that everyone starts law school with the equivalent of a semester under their belts. This frees up a great deal of class time that can now be spent on more substantive issues, sort of like how the MCAT gets a lot of biochem issues out of the way.

    One final advantage is that it creates demand for undergrad pre-law classes. Wherever there are undergrad classes, there are graduate teaching assistants with tuition covered and a stipend to boot.

  63. BL1Y:

    As I've said before, I think Option 2 would be a really really good idea.

    Then again, after conducting an informal survey of some (Internet) friends who were, to a man, more successful lawyers or law students than myself, I've had to back off on the idea that highish LSAT scores weren't predictive, as we were all reasonably close (i.e., top 10% of takers, although I think I was the second lowest from my unscientifically selected sample group).

    Thus, I've had to consider the possibility that either I scored what I did as a fluke (perhaps Option 1 isn't really that bad an idea either) or I'm one of those really special cases who can understand abstract nonsense but for whom more concrete problems cause trouble. Which, when I think about it, would actually explain quite a lot.

    I still think it's not *as good* as a Baby MBE would be.

  64. Re: BL1Y:

    The mouth that roared.

    A legend in his own mind!

    A humbug.

    Still clinging to the status that he lost a long, long time ago.

    These things happen to lots of people though they don't want to accept it.

    A by blow fallen into a ditch in the marsh. A Heathcliffe.

    The Barbaric Yawp of faded gentility.

    Another "Sir" John Darbyfield riding home on a cart he can't afford, when he should have ignored the Pastor and gone straight home in his rags, and on foot.

    A BL1y.

    The 1 stands for first tier LOSER!

    Ah, just joking, and just kidding. I take it all back and with a smiley face too :)

  65. LawProf:

    The findings won't shock anyone here, but I hope you give some airtime to Bernie Burk's tidy aggregation of employment figures and how temporary law-school-funded positions distort the stats:


    One of the comments above noted Paul Caron's lovely chart of these numbers, which illustrates the percentage differences even more starkly:


    (As a side note, I suspect Prof. Burk's 20+ years of practice before entering academia give him valuable added perspective as a legal profession scholar and as a resource for his students...)


  66. Really like the idea of an mini-MBE. Something like turning the LSAT into a two day affair might work (one day traditional LSAT, one day MBE). Hell, someone should tell LSAC they could make twice the money this way!

    I think it would also give pre-law types a better idea of some of the drudgery involved in "thinking like a lawyer."

  67. Is that a mistake??? 11:15 AM.. The child is 15 years old & still in Middle School???..6, 7. 8 Grade..?

    I know 2.. 17 year old student who
    will be entering University this Fall...

  68. Another supporter of the mini-MBE here. But who would be the first mover to get it going? LSAC won't want to invest in developing a test for which there is no demand. HYS requiring it for admission would probably ensure its success, but they're probably just as happy with the status quo.

  69. I took the LSAT 20 years ago - when results were on a different scale - I think I had a 42 or a 44 - it was above the requirement for every school I applied to and put me I think in the 2%. I do not know if the current LSAT is harder or tougher. My prep consisted of looking at the practice tests - and I did the GRE - general and physics and chemistry. The thing was that the general GRE was more or less identical in form and as far as I could see content to the LSAT (I did marginally better on the GRE general.) At that time I saw nothing on either the general GRE or the LSAT that was not, at least to me, a question I could not have answered at 15-16 and I am still puzzled as to how it was in anyway selective. Of course the current test may be better and have less of the silly 7-kids with hats, read this paragraph and answer obvious questions - I have not looked at it (no reason to.)

    Incidentally, my then girlfriend, now wife did the same thing - she prepped without a course in the mid-90s and took the General GRE first, then the LSAT and then the GMAT and did well enough to get offered a full ride in business school at a few schools and a 50% ride at the one she went to. Of course she does speak six languages and had a double major completed in 3.5 years.

    Are LSAT scores determinative?? Good question ... to which I am not sure of the answer. I am not a BigLaw partner ... I also know a lot of HYS graduates that I would not trust to wash windows who presumably did well on the LSAT.

    In any event, the economics of law schools - their business model so to speak - has led them relentlessly to add student numbers. Law is a cheap subject to run - there are no labs, the library "plant" is increasingly highly subsidized, the facilities are lecture theaters and a rooms. The marginal gain from adding an extra law student is pretty near 90% or more - that is to say every student you add into a 1L class is almost all pure profit.

    In addition, adjunct professors seem cheap. The subject of being an adjunct was raised with me at law school X a few years back - and it turns out that they pay an honoraria of $10,000. This may sound pretty self interested - but $10k! Consider what teaching that course would have meant to me - I would have had to arrange for 12-14 weeks to be in DC to teach the class on set days every week. Class time would be 36 hours - and I would expect that at least twice as much time would have to be office time with students (that is what I think would be the minimum to teach properly) so that is over 100 hours of face time, then prep time for the course would be three-four weeks of solid work - call it 160 hours. Then there is the exam - say 30 students - writing the exam - maybe 30 hours, grading the exam 90 hours (3 hours per paper) - so it comes to about 400 hours - for which I would be paid $25 per hour! What do they think my billing rate is - it has to be at least a multiple with a zero more and I keep more than half. The ABA accreditation requirements for law school are 966 credit hours over a minimum of 5 semesters. I checked my old law school - and it charges $1650 per credit hour. That means per credit hour of class time on a 30 student class it takes in $49,500, this makes a two hour class $100,000 to $150,000 in revenue. Pay the adjunct a $10,000 honorarium and that leaves $90,000 to $140,000 gross revenue - pack in more students and the revenue gets better - and at my old school the adjunct courses were always massively oversubscribed and some were 60+ and 3 hours twenty years ago. Adjuncts are subsidising the professors

    The issue to get you head around is that law schools are very profitable "non-profits." They are not going to give up the revenue.



    ABA Won't Require Law Schools To Report Graduates' Pay

    New York (March 20, 2012, 5:05 PM ET) -- The legal education council for the American Bar Association on Saturday gave its preliminary approval for updated law school accreditation standards, but also rejected a recommendation that it require the schools to disclose its graduates’ salary data.

    The Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar decided against the recommendations of its own Standards Review Committee and pressure from transparency advocates who argue that the data is crucial to prospective applicants.

    The council said in a statement that it turned down the requirement because fewer than 45 percent of law graduates contacted by their law schools report their salaries and it felt strongly that the current collection of such data is unreliable. Schools will still be allowed to voluntarily report salary data, but must specify the number of respondents and the percentage of graduates the data represents.

    Tennessee-based nonprofit Law School Transparency outlined in a memo to the council its support for the requirement and called the council’s rejection disappointing.


  71. Where is that story, 6:49?

  72. What about the argument that your first job isn't going to determine your entire career?

    I worked with someone whose spouse graduated from BU and made law review. (S)he worked some job in North Carolina for less than a year, which, from the way they talked about it, didn't pay all that well. Now (s)he has a biglaw job in Chicago. Is there an argument to be made that these people who work crap jobs can end up hitting the biglaw lottery after getting a year or two under their belts?

    Not that this excuses the entire law school scam or anything. I mean, even though this person was able to snag a job that may allow him/her to pay of the debts if (s)he's not churned and burned, this is still a top grad from a top tier school.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.