Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How bad things really are

Bernie Burk, a professor at the University of North Carolina's law school, has posted some data gathered from law school web sites regarding how many graduates of the class of 2010 at a half dozen "top tier" schools were being paid by their alma maters at the nine-month post-graduation NALP reporting deadline. (Paul Caron has organized the information into a handy table).

Burk indicates he's going to post a lot more data on this question soon, which would be extremely useful as to the best of my knowledge no one has published or posted any systematic numbers on this.  Here are a few numbers to add to Burk's list:

Fordham:  70 graduates (14.7% of those reporting employment status)

Virginia:  40 graduates  (10.9% of the class)

Michigan State:  37 graduates   (10.6% of those reporting employment status)

Ohio State:  Approximately 14 (6.7% of the class; i.e., "about a third of the 20% of the class employed in temporary or part-time positions.")

A few notes:  It will be interesting to find out exactly how many schools have posted such information at this point.  As far as I know nobody was posting these numbers until a few months ago.  And some schools are being quite cagey on this score: When asked about the matter directly last week, Columbia acknowledged it had such a program, but claimed to be unable to report how many of its 2010 graduates were taking advantage of it. I've been told by Michigan law students that the school's administration flatly refuses to disclose how many graduates are having their salaries paid for by the school during the NALP reporting window, or even if the school has such a program, although it's generally known among the student body that it does. 

Also, while Prof. Burk's willingness to investigate this matter in a systematic way and to warn his colleagues that the employment situation is really bad are both wholly admirable, his sense of that situation is still in fact far too optimistic:

We’ll have a more complete dataset in a week or two, but I predict that more detail will indicate that significant numbers of the most prestigious law schools in the country are funding temporary employment for significant portions of their graduating classes.  And what that suggests is that the current legal job market is appreciably more depressed than many interested observers had previously estimated.  We thought it was bad, but not this bad.  After all, if something like one in five of the graduates of the 50 most prestigious law schools in the country can’t find a permanent, full-time law job within a year after graduating, what does that tell us about the prospects for graduates of the additional 150 accredited schools falling below them on anybody’s list?  There are a number of schools in the “unranked” section of US News’s listing with nine-month placement rates under 50%.  Holy cow.  [bolding supplied]
In fact, for the real legal employment rate (identified correctly by Prof. Burk as permanent full-time employment requiring a law degree) to get to anywhere close to 80% would require a truly massive improvement in the situation at the vast majority of top 50 schools, and indeed that employment number is currently being achieved by a total of perhaps six schools.

Consider that at the University of Colorado,  17.5% of the class of 2010 was completely unemployed nine months after graduation.  Less than half the class had permanent full-time employment requiring a law degree.  Now it's true CU is near the bottom of the top 50, but let's look a little more closely at the numbers at a much higher ranked school -- numbers Prof. Burk links to in his post.  Minnesota is currently a top 20 school, yet only 191 of 284 graduates (67.25%) were known to have a "long-term" position of any kind, law-related or not.  Yet even this number is misleading.  It includes seven "long-term" positions funded by the law school, and it counts 34 of 39 judicial clerkships as "long-term."  (20 of those 34 "long-term" clerkships are state and local rather than federal.).

The explanation for this is probably that NALP defines "short-term" employment as a definite term of less than  one year, so a contract of exactly one year in duration counts as "long-term."  (Although NALP has treated judicial clerkships as short-term employment in its national stats, I've been told that beginning this year it is going to start categorizing one-year clerkships as long-term. If this is correct, the organization is helping law schools mislead prospective students about the actual long-term employment rate of graduates nine months out).

The Minnesota stats also include 28 "long-term" jobs in "business and industry" (How many of these jobs require a law degree? How many of them are in retail?), plus 36 "long-term" jobs working for law firms of less than 11 attorneys, or as solos.  Indeed, if we count up the jobs Minnesota graduates had nine months after graduation that could be defined (very liberally) as real legal jobs, in the sense of "jobs someone might have considered an acceptable outcome ex ante before investing $160K and three years to get a JD" we get:

64 jobs with law firms of more than ten lawyers

20  "government" jobs

7 public interest jobs

15 federal clerkships

(Note it's not even clear that all these jobs are full-time and/or JD required).

That's 106 positions out of 284 graduates, or 37.2%.  This number, probably not coincidentally, tracks closely with the number of graduates for whom Minnesota has salary data: 37% of those working in private industry; 30% of those working in public positions.

The real  (in the sense of representing a loosely acceptable outcome) employment rate isn't just under 50% at bottom tier schools: it's well under 50% at a top 20 school. That's how bad things really are.


  1. The 'Unraveling' of 1983 - 2006 hid all the underlying structural misallocation of resources that are the consequence of a Centrally planned economy. There is a reason USSR collapsed. You cannot manage an economy from the top down. The Federal Reserve and their printing of infinite fiat dollars is responsible for this catastrophe.

    This is a 4th Turning.............

    BITCHEZ !!!!!!!!111111


    By 2020 America will go through the Gate of the 4th Turning.

    The old institutions are crumbling.

  3. The truth is spreading, and the info is starting to penetrate the gray matter of prospective law students. There is essentially NO justifiable reason for incurring an additional $150K in non-dischargeable student debt for a law degree.

    The job market is shrinking. Automation and outsourcing of legal services has hit this industry HARD. Thanks, ABA pigs for "Ethics" Opinion 08-451, which permits U.S. firms to hire foreign lawyers and non-attorneys to engage in American legal discovery. (The computer programs are advancing ever so quickly. If the top computers can defeat world champion chess players, and they have done so for over 14 years now, then it should be no surprise that they can perform many doc review functions. I am dead serious. A typical international grandmaster probably has 30-40 IQ points on the average law grad, and chess is much more complex than reviewing documents.)

    The schools are desperate. Fewer people are taking the LSAT. Schools will either lower admission standards, and accepting a slow death, or they will see smaller enrollments. Can anyone guess which route the fraudsters will take?!

  4. After posting the comment above, I initially felt that I overstated the difference between the world's top chess players and typical law grads.

    Then I looked up some estimated IQs for top chess players. Garry Kasparov is estimated to have an IQ around 190. He lost to Deep Blue, but beat its computer predecessors - and subsequently managed draws with several advanced computer chess programs. Bobby Fischer was alleged to have an IQ anywhere from 167 to 186.

    The rift may be further than I stated above. While Kasparov and Fischer are probably outliers, I wouldn't be surprised if "typical" world champion chess players have IQs in the 150 range, at least. If the computers can defeat such players (although Fischer never played against such a machine, it is probable that he would have lost against the advanced computers of the late 1990s - while smashing advanced models in 1970 or even 1980), then it seems likely that they will soon largely replace doc reviewers.

  5. The numbers are surely misleading, and the "real" numbers are depressing, but it is also somewhat difficult to classify some of these jobs. Are we to assume that people with state judicial clerkships aren't going to have meaningful legal careers? I don't think there is an answer either way to that. And the university-funded positions are sometimes legitimate - law schools will provide a stipend for students waiting on an actual public interest job to open up. Is that what a lot of these positions are? I have no idea, but we can't entirely write off everyone in that category as not having the opportunity to have a meaningful legal career. The data are certainly incomplete, and we need more.

  6. One of the guys hired by the (t25) school I went to is now an associate dean for career services. Irony aside, its at least one person whose "oh shit, better get this guy on the payroll" job turned in to an OK gig. Sucker me spent a year pounding pavement looking for something...

  7. I graduated in 01'. This shit has been a long time coming. Did the pound the pavement routine, take the JD off the resume dance, finally got a job as a bell hop at a hotel. Glad reality has finally caught up with reality and I no longer feel like a complete crazy ass loser.


  9. FINDCJ,

    I love you, but you crazy.

  10. Law school is for chumps.

  11. @8:08-- I think you are right to be concerned about writing people off as failed lawyers because they have state clerkships, or because it takes them longer than 9 months to find a job in the trough of a deep recession and the school has to step in to serve as a lifeline to give them more time. That's not a good outcome, and people need to know that these kinds of situations arise. It should figure into their decision.

  12. 8:51: Of course someone who has a state trial clerkship or for that matter is completely unemployed nine months after graduation may still manage, long-term, to have a legal career that makes going to law school a good decision in retrospect -- just as somebody who gets a $160K first job can easily enough end up having a legal career that makes going to law school a bad decision in retrospect.

    The question I'm posing here is, how many people are getting jobs that don't lead them to wish, nine months after graduation, that they could hit the re-set button then and there? The answer is pretty clearly not very many, even at a lot of high-ranked schools.

    And in formal economic terms the recession has been over for three years. What we're looking at is a new economic reality, both in the legal employment market and beyond it.

  13. I'm very confused by these stats, in looking at UVA's stats they stated they graduated 375 student in 2010. It almost appears as if only one was seeking employment 9 months after graduation. In the employment by sector/industry section it clearly shows 40 students from public service funding. In what category do these 40 students appear? Maybe I'm just ignorant but I can't figure out what they are really trying to show there. Now I'm not an attorney just the dad of one.

  14. The lottery might be a tax on the poor. Law School is an onerous tax on many unsuspecting twentysomethings.

  15. I remember how i was counting employment stats my 1l year (fall 10) and the numbers never added up. I just shrugged it off, if i realized that I was onto something i could have saved my future.

  16. You know once your blog starts getting daily comments by "Nando" the end of its significance is long past.

    Professor Campos, why don't you spend some time sitting outside your law school's admissions office chasing students away instead of just reading, writing, and commenting on here?

    You can't be as outraged about the situation as you claim and still go in to work every day and continue to collect your paycheck. You just can' matter what you say and no matter how the fanboys on here will come to your rescue after this comment.

    And I could probably quote Nando's response verbatim, so I won't bother. That's what happens when you only know a half dozen words of English.

  17. While I agree such "jobs" shouldn't be counted in the school's "employed at 9 months figure" I am concerned that your critiques will cause schools to no longer offer these positions, an occurence which would undoubtably harm students.

    Please make sure you credit schools who offer such "jobs" because at least they're doing something for their failed graduates.

    Speaking of which, does that shithole toilet you teach at (CU or whatever) offer such opportunities to unemployed graduates?

  18. I looked at CU's numbers and got 67% that had full time JD required jobs. Total grads x .825 x JD required x Full-time in JD required.

    What am I missing? (You posted that less than half had these kinds of jobs).

  19. @9:25
    Schools will continue to offer these school funded positions because it will ultimately help their "ranking."

  20. @9:25 - Hi Joan King !

  21. @9:25

    1. These "positions" funded by the schools usually pay something like $2K/month, pre-tax. That's not alot of money.

    2. Really, it's just a craven attempt by the law schools to boost their rankings.

    3. The whole thing disgusts me.

  22. $2k a month is nothing to sneeze at.


  24. 9:28: I specified permanent, i.e., long-term, full-time JD required. CU is counting 20+ judicial clerkships (almost all state clerkships) as long-term employment.

  25. To the cretin who posted at 9:25 am,

    How many English words are contained in this sentence? (Don't worry. You don't need to remove one of your shoes and socks to count them out.) Also, Campos has apparently spoken to students at various campuses - with regards to this scheme. Why don't YOU move out of your mother's basement, and do something meaningful with your "life"?

  26. 2k a month, less taxes, is about 1500.

    That does not cover the 10 year repayment of 150,000 at 7%($1,741.63). At the 20 year repayment ($1,162.95), you'd have $337.05 for food, housing, medical insurance, and anti-anxiety/depression medication.

    High. On. The. Hog.


    Here's the fll story if anyone wants to read.


  28. @terry

    Not to mention that most people paid the school 40k for nine before that

  29. Whoa, that is incredible.

  30. 9:25 You speak pretty loudly for a guy who can't even post his name. What law school do you work for.

  31. Caveat Emptor.........bitchez !!!!!!!!!!!!1111111111

  32. I am pretty sure most of those will be dismissed, state judges are political creatures and they promote the status quo

  33. 9:28 here.

    I think a clerkship is an acceptable outcome from law school. twenty years ago lots of people clerked, and no one said " oh hey look only 68% of the class had permanent full-time legal jobs. " I agree with you on your general points, but have a hard time criticizing schools for clerkships. Surely some trial court clerkship in nowhere mountain town might not lead to anything full-time legal, but then again it really might especially if the grad tries to find work in said small mountain town. State appellate clerkships are nothing to sneeze at, either. Furthermore, and this is a CU only point because I know all the schools differ--CU hired 20 some odd people in their fellowship program last year but nearly all of them had permanent offers in the office they were placed at by the time reporting rolled around. For those kids, the fellowship program was a fabulous life branch, whether or not that was the true point of the program.

    I'm a student at CU and not a career service employee if that is what you were thinking..

  34. @nando - on IQs, the average attorney has an IQ of around 114-115 (by the way the average judge is 111) which does put them at the top end of IQs by occupation. See That puts lawyers in the upper 15% of the population

    This is part of the problem with the law school bubble - it is sucking in graduates who are in the upper 1/6th of the ability spectrum for a qualification that only 1/2 will be able to use - to the detriment of society and the US economy (and the UK.)

    But it gets worse - here is an LSAT to IQ conversion chart

    A LSAT 160 score equates to an IQ of about 120, 172 to an IQ of 135. What this means is that the typical top 50 law school student is in the upper 10% to the upper 1% The wasted potential is absolutely huge. It is also a pretty safe bet that most law students would have done pretty well without going to law school.


  35. Thanks for the info @10:10...I do think these programs can be beneficial. But for how long? How long will these partners of the law school's fellowship program be able to hire these grads? And I agree about the clerkships, if we get to the point we don't allow these to be considered jobs, I think we'll be overreaching and our main points will be diminished. In any case, the fellowship program continues to be a band-aid to a gaping hole of employment issues (availability, pay vs. debt, etc.), that, without any documentation to prove the contrary, is funded through a pretty disgusting method.

  36. 8:28 said: "I graduated in 01'. This shit has been a long time coming. Did the pound the pavement routine, take the JD off the resume dance, finally got a job as a bell hop at a hotel. Glad reality has finally caught up with reality and I no longer feel like a complete crazy ass loser."

    I graduated in '95 from a school that is typically ranked in the 20s by USN&WR -- so solidly first tier, but not really an "elite" school. Nine months after graduation I was employed doing unskilled manual labor. Nine months after that, I was employed in retail management.

    To be fair, I had weak grades (bottom quarter of my class), I was as a clueless a K-JD as they come, my school is in a heavily saturated market (it's not the highest-ranked school in its metro area), and in '95 the legal job market had still not yet recovered from the early '90s recession. But it was very possible even back then to graduate from a school of that rank under the above circumstances and be unable to find any legal employment at all.

  37. @Lawprof - How do schools like Fordham justify this kind of expenditure? Charity? 'Experience'?

  38. Michigan Law pays graduates $4k for 12 weeks of "work" post-graduation. Nothing at the 9 month mark.

  39. FOARP: The justification for these programs is that they serve as a bridge to practice, as well as temporary income for people badly in need of it. It should be unnecessary to point out (but apparently it is necessary) that representations made by law schools regarding how well such programs succeed in getting people in long-term jobs that they otherwise wouldn't have gotten should be viewed skeptically.

    As it stands, schools are taking money from current students (again, money is fungible) to give to otherwise unemployed graduates. That of course is problematic for all sorts of reasons.

  40. Better to have nothing at all?

  41. Even if NYLS motion has been dismissed, if the scam bloggers keep up their work, there is a possibility of >100 Law Schools shutting down within the next decade, if the realities of supply/demand imbalances are able to penetrate the minds of college students.

    And all these Deans will lose their obscene salaries

    Motive enough?

  42. Yet another great post from Professor Campos.

    The data really makes you wonder just how many hundreds of thousands of people's lives have been destroyed or heavily scarred by the Law School Scam. This is most likely and old problem that just hasn't received this sort of attention until during the recession because JD overproduction has been occurring since the 1970s and today we have an attorney-to-population ratio of about 1 JD for every 215 people if you only count the JDs produced over the past 40 years. (The data was calculated using ABA stats for the number of JDs awarded and Census Bureau data.) See:

    40 Years of Lawyer Overproduction, A Data Table, and Two Charts

    Consequently, I also used Bureau of Labor Statistics information to estimate that fewer than 54% of all JDs produced over the past forty years are actually employed in the legal profession at jobs of varying quality and value:

    Statistics Suggest That Only 53.8% of All Lawyers Are Employed in the Legal Profession

    Using some assumptions about the percentages of newly-produced JDs who were able to enter and remain in the legal profession with it's being easier to do years ago when the attorney-to-population ratio was much lower, it may be possible that fewer than 30% of all JDs produced over the past 10 years actually work in the legal profession:

    Statistics May Suggest That Less Than 30% of New JDs Were Able to Find Work in the Legal Profession Over the Past 10 Years.

    Also, a significant percentage of those jobs may be of varying quality with many being low-income solo practices, Legal Aid, and small firm jobs.

    The only solution to this problem is to shutter at least 75% of the law schools. It's too bad that we cannot just turn off the JD-production spigot entirely for a few years so that our society will be forced to utilize the legions of JDs it has already wasted tremendous amounts of money and resources producing.

  43. I suppose it goes without saying that if the judicial system is at the moment unable for whatever reason to send a message to the misleading, fraudulent, morally reprehensible law schools, our blogging efforts and any means of directing attention to the law school scam are even more important.

  44. I would believe that these programs were primarily for the benefit of the students- if the law schools disclosed the number of graduates in these positions prominently on their websites and in their application materials- acknowledging that this is a sub-optimal outcome. It's a well kept secret at my school and I suspect at many others. Even if they were disclosed I'm sure the implication would be that these were prestigious fellowships instead of last-resort options.

  45. 9:42 AM.... 2K may be nothing to sneeze at but when they know that their class mates are making over 2K a week that could be a bit depressing...

  46. U of MN is an apt choice because it sits in perhaps the most oversaturated legal market in the United States. There are four, count 'em, four law schools in Minneapolis-St. Paul. If you think the prospects are bad for grads of the U, woe betide grads of 3d tier William Mitchell or St. Thomas, or 4th tier Hamline. I crack up every day when I walk to work passed an advertisement for Hamline's "nationally ranked" JD program. It actually uses "nationally ranked" as though it were some kind of accolade. Lordy. Then, because the market is so oversaturated, the big local firms can get away with paying a lot less than analagous firms in other cities. We're talking top 100 firms by revenue/headcount that starts their associates at $110K / year. I realize no one is going to weep over 110K / year, but it just makes the law school bargain all the worse when the best case result for the handful that "make it" is 50K less than other cities.

  47. I just saw the ruling on the NYLS case.

    My first reaction was burning anger, but it's subsiding. Revenge is a dish best served cold. my parents and the rest of the boomer generation can rot in the most filty rat infested nursing home. You guys are on your own.


  48. Right on, 2:35. Right there with you.

  49. @2:35 I also agree but the reality of America is that those people that ruined this country's future will get the best treatment. While the old people that worked and earned honestly won't have enough savings to go any retirement home.

  50. 2:35 here

    That's the unfortunate part. It's unfair to tar an entire generation for the sins of a few.

    My story is that I failed the bar multiple times. I still haven't passed. I continue to service my loans because, despite all my online lobbying for student loan relief, I still have a sense of personal integrity.

    At this point, for me, it's not so much about the money. It's more a sense that I was taken advantage of, and lied too all my life by the people I thought I could trust.

  51. This is WHY no matter what is said to make students think twice about going to Law School::

    There is a very bright young woman who graduated from a top 10 LS... at
    OCI she was given interviews by about 10 Firms who gave her offers. She chose one of the BIG Law Firms who paid her trips in all First Class. (All her interviews she was wined & dined) but the one she chose was what some people here call the winning Lottery...The Firm has a couple Chiefs who make breakfast for the Attorneys. Club, Gym, Laundry & Parking are all paid by the Firm.. Before she did her Summer's stint the Firm sent her airline tickets to meet the Partners at/in their Box at a sports game.

    This young lady & 3 other men were singled out from the group of Summers to move onto the fast track.
    When the Summer stint was over she was asked to stay on for 3 more weeks and the Firm put the 4 summers up in a Hotel..
    She was offered $175k & told not to discuss it with the other Summers..The Job package was quite generous...And I bet her Law School has her as one of those working for Big Law.

    She worked for a few wonderful months & then her dad became ill and she called the company where she did
    a Summer stint the year before & she told them she will
    accept their offer of $135k with a VERY good job package
    but, No Country Club, No Gym, No parking & No Chief...
    but she is in her home State, near to her parents & she
    said that she is much happier working for a Fortune 100
    Company instead of the Firm...She was given a raise
    and a bonus at the beginning of March 2012

    People heading to Law Schools in the Fall believe that
    is the norm and the same thing is going to happen to them...

  52. 3:14 - So she received a fantastic job offer, chose to give it up for family reasons, and successfully obtained a still fantastic job closer to home? I agree that's not anywhere close to the norm, but in what universe is this a cautionary tale?

  53. You should write an entry about Duke, the school that started the Bridge to Practice program and was able to claim 100 percent employment as a result. Looking at the numbers online: out of 213 members of the class of 2010, 19 were employed in bridge to practice (almost 10 percent), and only 179 had positions that "required" a JD...

    Some other red flags: lawyers in 2-10 person law firms spiked from 1.4% to 9.7% from one year to the next, "government" employment spiked from 1% to 10% (who knows what this means? Strange).

    They also have the percentage of "long-term employed" that reported salaries, but don't say what percentage of the class this is. They don't break down employment by paid, unpaid internships, part-time vs full-time, etc.

    All I know is that these numbers are damn fishy. And we don't even have the class of 2011's data yet. And mark my words, the class of 2013 is going to be a total bloodbath because the class has 30 more people than the class of 2010 (and of course the school didn't lower our tuition one bit to reflect our bigger class). Pair that with the declining legal market, and you are going to see a bunch of pissed off graduates!

  54. *For government, I meant from 2 to 11%, not one to 10%.

  55. Ruling on a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against NYLS

  56. @3 46, funny wake forest increased their class size by 20 people for '14. I guess we learn from the best;)

    NC legal market is fucked. Decent schools increase their numbers while 2 new shit law school started cranking another 250+ jd clowns just in time for 2010 employment season.

  57. I well remember my law school commencement.

    When the diplomas were being handed out, the announcer at the microphone would not too infrequently read out the graduates name, as well as the name of another person who was onstage to greet the graduate as well: a Judge so and so, or a Partner of this firm or that firm, or an esteemed mayor of this town or that.

    Until I finally said to myself: WTF? It looks like those classmates have jobs already!

  58. The Transparency/scamblog movement scored a true victory in shaming the ABA into revising its disclosure standards to require law schools to reveal how many graduates are "full-time-long" employed in a "bar passage required job," nine months after graduation.

    However, it is clear that a lot of scamming is still possible within that category. I am fine with them counting a paid state appellate court clerkship, but I agree that they should not be counting phony-baloney "fellowships" paid for by the law school, or unpaid "jobs," or solo practitioners, or two-to-five lawyer "firms" consisting of desparate recent grads, or members of the crew on the odd document review project set to run for more than a year.

    Even placing tongue in cheek and assuming that all "bar passage required/ full-time-long" jobs except for the solos and fellowships constitute real lawyer jobs, the stats we have seen from 2 T-25s so far are interesting: WUSL reported 188 out of 317 graduates in "bar passage required/ full-time-long," nine months out, and the University of Minnesota scored 196 out of 284 (a reported 205 minus the seven long-term law school funded positions and two solos), i.e 59 percent for WUSL and 69 percent for Minnesota.

    I wonder what kind of numbers we will see when we cross over into the lower-first, second, third, and fourth tiers.


  59. I just read the ruling on NYLS's motion to dismiss, and I'm finding it hard to disagree with the court's reasoning. In the context of consumer law, what the school did wasn't fraud. However, it's just so wrong to view a non-profit institute of higher education's obligations to its students through the same lens that we look at used car dealers and plumbers. There is an ethical obligation to do better, and law schools have utterly failed to live up to it.

  60. 2:35 here again

    I will make it my personal mission to make sure every negative aspect of law school will be available for everyone who googles "law school" via wikipedia.

    I don't care how long it takes, or how many different public computers I have to use. this fraud will not go unreported, until law schools lower tuition to reasonable levels.

    Judge Schwitzer, a "reasonable person" of your age and experience should know tuition being charged is not reasonable. you stupid fuck.

  61. 2:35 again

    never mind my last comment about the judge. sorry. lost my temper.

    I graduated in 2006. Have not made A DENT in the principal balance, although I have made every payment as agreed. with all due respect, the people harmed by this ongoing fraud date back YEARS. this blaming everything on the GREAT RECESSION is complete and utter bullshit.

  62. @2:35: I feel the anger man. I google inside law school scam everyday, now it actually shows up as one of the suggestions if you type in "inside law."

  63. It is a well-reasoned opinion. It is good that the judge went out of his way to acknowledge the problems that graduates--and the legal profession-- have faced and are still facing.

  64. Judge Schwitzer at least concedes the consumer "risk" concept of going to one law school.

    Maybe that is a huge victory for the big, many layered scam picture overall?

    At least, and going forward, there are now the words of a Judge that admit that Law School in this day and age is a risky idea.

    Baby steps.

  65. This has nothing to do with the recession. The tuition increases have been going on since the early 1980s. He also concedes that reliance is not an issue. Why would a law school publish that 90% of its graduates were employed if they did not intend for naive college graduates to enroll and pay the ever increasing tuition prices? And don't tell me that a 20-something graduate is as sophisticated as a law school. please.

    And how in the hell is a college graduate supposed to anticipate if they will earn enough to service their educational debt? where is the reasonableness in continuing to increase tuition year after year? reasonable for greedy law school administrators.

    And market forces argument? please. this is NOT IN ANY WAY the FREE MARKET these republican judges swear allegiance to.

  66. @6:06 "The tuition increases have been going on since the early 1980s."

    My tax prof said today that law as a profession went to shit after 1984. I wonder if there is any relation.

  67. The 80's is when the economic madness in America started. Look at debt to GDP ratios and how it started around 82-83. The last chance to arrest it was in 99-00 when a budget surplus could have been used for the debt.

    Also its when the skyrocketing Tuition vs. Inflation began to occur....what is it like 6x the rate of inflation now?


  68. lol, i just got 5 new credit cards and I'm going to vegas next week. 25,000 dollar limit! I'm gonna use them all and declare bk. hell, maybe I'll win and be able to pay off ACS. it should be interesting...

  69. Dead end profession ruined by its own greed.

    The old feeding on the youths' tab.

    Government+capitalism created the best debt out there: high interest, non-chargeable, and interest that is re-capitalized. Further, if some suckers can't pay but make some money later we can still get them 20 years down the road: just to make sure that none of those losers ever make it.

    Too bad policy makers do not realize that you can't get blood out of a rock. After all, 100K or 150K or 300K its same shit to unemployed now ex-student. Once you fucked by student debt amount of it does not really matter.

  70. @6:48

    The best poker action is at Mandalay Bay. Nits and Tags everywhere else. Good luck. Who knows I may see you there.

    - off the grid

  71. Speaking of the 1980's, and Breaking News:

    Conservative Talk Radio claims, and to borrow a phrase (from "de facto" mass media Republican political leaders such as Limbaugh and Sean Hannity) that Ronald Regan was a "Great American" and more or less had the nads on successful American Economics for all time.

    How can anyone argue with Conservative talk radio by now? They are relentless, and keep hammering home a simple and same message for the masses.

    They are hell bent on this years elections and may well win back all three houses.

    The Conservatives are very, very powerful and formidable and not sympathetic to SL debtors for sure.

    My guess is that SL Debt will be blamed by the Republicans on the Liberals, and that the Liberals will blame it all on the Conservatives.

    After that? Who knows?

    What a mess.

  72. Judge Schweitzer made an absurd and preposterous mistake when he wrote that

    "there is simply no representation in NYLS's marketing materials that the sample of the reported salaries is in any way representative of the salaries earned by all the employed graduates . . ."

    That is absolutely false. When you use terms like 25th percentile, 75th percentile, median and mean you are communicating a desire to describe a POPULATION and not a sample. It would make no sense to report the 25th percentile salary of a biased sample. What reasonable person would care to know the 25th percentile of a biased sample?

    If an investment manager took his 40 best performing investments, took their average return and reported it that would be easily actionable fraud regardless of whether he disclosed that he was only using 40 investments.

    In such cases the onus must be on the person to disclose that "mean", "median", "25th percentile", "75th percentile" etc. do not have their normal meaning, and instead have a ludicrous and useless meaning, namely that they describe a biased sample.

    If I was writing the appeal that is the line I would focus my attack on. Absolutely terrible, intellectually dishonest and dangerous reasoning by the shitty and incompetent judge.

    Good job asshole, you had a chance to make the world a better place, and instead you chose to attempt to institutionalized the reporting of biased samples.

  73. Liberals are the same as Conservatives.


    WAKE UP U POLITICAL HACKS!!!!!!!!!!1111111

  74. Honda just came out with the following advertisement:

    Based on a sample* of 50% of driving conditions in San Francisco, the Honda Civic gets 200 miles to the gallon.

    (the 50% sample is the periods when the car is rolling down a hill. this is not disclosed but a reasonable consumer would magically sense it)

  75. @933, very good point. I did not realize until I got into law school that they don't use those terms in traditional sense aka what I was taught in my stats class.

  76. This system is UNSALVAGEABLE.

    Only WHEN [and it will] this sytem collapses can we build again.

    There is too much rot in the institutions.


  77. @ 9:33, not if you revealed that you were reporting on an incomplete set of a group. You could report on the 75th percentile of the 27% of people who responded to a survey. The population is of the people who responded, not of the entire group of graduates. By revealing that you are basing the percemtiles on a sample, which is what happened, you are telling a reasonable person that the information is not complete.

  78. "By revealing that you are basing the percemtiles on a sample, which is what happened, you are telling a reasonable person that the information is not complete."

    No, that is absolutely wrong and ignorant of a field that you don't understand. The entire purpose of sampling is to describe the population you sampled from. You sample because you don't have time or resources to measure the entire population. There are courses and books, and really the entire point of statistics is to measure how credibly you can describe a population based on samples.

    For example, you're producing products off of an assembly line. You can't test all of them, so you test a sample, take the mean/median/25th percentile etc. of that sample, and statistical methods will tell you the probability that these results also describe the population. That's where the term "six sigma" comes from, meaning that the factory sample describes the population within six standard deviations.

    To use terms like average/mean/median/25th percentile etc. to describe a sample - that you know does not represent the population - makes no sense. For example, why would a factory manager care that the average failure rate of a biased sample off the assembly line is 2%? Why would an investor care that your average return on a biased sample of investments was 20%?

    The normal use of those terms is to describe the population, and if you're using them in some wierd and deceptive way that only describes the sample, and definitely does not describe the population, then you have to make that very clear. Frankly, you shouldn't be able to report biased samples as they're inherently misleading even if you do asterix the results.

  79. "The Conservatives are very, very powerful and formidable and not sympathetic to SL debtors for sure."

    I don't think this is a conservative/liberal issue---but if it were, choosing between the student loan debtors and the academics who lied to them, conservatives in general have been far more skeptical of academics than liberals in general. This is a function of their ideology, which tends to value experience over theory.

    In fact, many conservatives abhor borrowing large sums of money for anything other than a reasonable mortgage (not talking about McMansion conservatives here--I'm talking about the folks who grew up in spendthrift households).

    If you wish to have the support of conservatives in your quest, focus on the lies that the academics told you. Focus on the lack of integrity of the law schools. Liberals worship the law degree far more than conservatives. If you don't believe me, try to find the last democratic ticket where BOTH president and V.P. didn't attend law school.

    Where you will lose conservatives is blanket loan forgiveness. Heck, you'll lose me for that matter. I'm halfway through paying off my six figure debt, which I've done by prioritizing (bought smaller house than I could've, still buying used cars that I can pay for with cash, etc.). While I have no problem lightening the load of the scammed a bit, the idea that my tax money would just allow them to start all over like they never made a mistake while I'm still dutifully paying mine off---no thanks on that score.

  80. Sorry, meant to type those who did *NOT* grow up in spendthrift households.

  81. @4:53No, you are wrong. The schools are not supposed to be looking for a sample. Schools with graduates who make high salaries have near 100 percent rates of reports. Anyone reading that on a website would have a more reliable way of making a judgment about the earning capacity of those schools' graduates. If the school sends out surveys and only 20 percent of people respond, a reasonable person would know that he or she does not have enough information to go on. That person could engage in wishful thinking and assume that all of the other 80% are not reporting because they are all too busy counting their exorbitant salaries. But that would not be reasonable.

  82. Greed comes up a lot in these posts. I think it' a psychological concept known as projecting at play here. Prospective law students want to make $160K a year because they've heard that's possible. Greed motivates the application to law school, although the application essay talks about a desire to "change the world and help others."

    These are folks who've always thought they were the smartest person in every class they've taken--and maybe they were. They think this will stay true in law school, because they don't factor in that everyone else will also have been the smartest person in his/her classes. And they don't bother to understand how the mandatory grading curve works. Which is problem because they also don't dig into the details of the financial aid offers that come with a GPA requirement, or they assume they will be able to meet the GPA requirement to keep a scholarship because, well, they've always the smartest person in class.

    And they don't bother to dig into the employment numbers, assuming that they could never be one of the grads who don't land a job in BigLaw.

    So we come to graduation and that first job. It may not be the $160K/year gig they envisioned. Do they think long-term--this is the first position in a lifelong career? No.

    They look around for someone to blame. Whose fault could it be? The greedy law school dean. They greedy law school administrators. They lied from the start, they lied all along, and they're lying now. Right?

    Wrong. They expected you to understand the "contract" involved in law school admission and matriculation. How?

    They expected you to read all the info, not just from their schools, and ask questions--especially when you noticed discrepancies or didn't understand or weren't sure about something you read or heard.

    They expected you to talk to lawyers practicing the kind of law you want to practice--and not just alumni of the schools you were considering, to learn their perspective on the politics of hiring and promotions, what the day-to-day work is like (does it match your expectations? how hard is it to work 70-80 hours a week, really?), and what they see as the future of the field.

    They expected you to take an active part in your career development, to make a point of doing well in interviews, to conduct a comprehensive job search (not refuse to interview with any firm outside of BigLaw).

    So it comes back to greed--and the willful blindness it inspires in prospective law school students.

  83. "Wrong. They expected you to understand the "contract" involved in law school admission and matriculation. How?

    They expected you to read all the info, not just from their schools, and ask questions--especially when you noticed discrepancies or didn't understand or weren't sure about something you read or heard."

    Shorter: If you had been thinking like a lawyer, you would have known lawyers would lie to you.

  84. 5:20, That's completely incoherent. No clue what point you're trying to make, other than your circular use of the cop-out catch-all term "reasonable."

  85. @5:45. I do not think that is entirely fair. The process you are describing can also be explained by a basic lack of direction, which is sometimes a function of being young. Many people go to law school because they do not know what else to do. In that circumstance it would be easy to fall into a pattern of not paying attention or being excited enough to find out about the profession or, even, what law school is like. Greed is not the story for everyone.

  86. @5:59 I am saying that the salary stats are not misleading.

  87. 6:01: Apparently you "forgot" that until about 15 minutes ago law schools almost always presented salary statistics without revealing what percentage of graduates the statistics represented.

  88. @LawProf--I did not forget anything. I was talking about the salary stats in the case under discussion. In that case, the salary stats were reported with qualifying information.

  89. To LawProf response to 5:58 AM:
    No, you are wrong. If prospective law students would simply adhere to the old warning "buyer beware" -- and not be blinded by their need to believe they are smarter and more special than everyone else, and therefore are guaranteed first-job placement success at a BigLaw firm -- they would do a thorough job investigating their options for law school. The result of these investigation might lead them to determine that they should not go to law school at all, and instead pursue a different career. (I'm starting to think this may be true for you, too, as you seem to be a frustrated academic.)

    Your cynicism is sickening. Lying is not the default communication mode for lawyers or law school administrators.

    Your inability to offer solutions -- that are sensible and legal (i.e., able to be implemented within U.S. educational and privacy laws) -- to remedy the problems you continually bitch about is a downer.

  90. "No, you are wrong. If prospective law students would simply adhere to the old warning "buyer beware" -- and not be blinded by their need to believe they are smarter and more special than everyone else, and therefore are guaranteed first-job placement success at a BigLaw firm -- they would do a thorough job investigating their options for law school"

    Are you aware that they actually, mentally CANNOT do this? It's not a matter of being smart. The optimism bias is hardwired into our DNA. The rational actor model has been thoroughly discredited. Pick up a fucking newspaper.

  91. What happened to the "Damaged Goods" post?

  92. I was enjoying it too.

  93. Lawprof just shot his own credibility. Putting up a post like that, then deleting it, on a day when he should be discussing the NYLS dismissal?

    Jumped the shark.

  94. Free speech is good, but we must be considered of people's feelings online.

  95. Also, we must think of the children.

  96. "The Conservatives are very, very powerful and formidable and not sympathetic to SL debtors for sure."

    Well I'm pretty much a down-the-line Republican (in the Bush pro-immigration wing), and I'm extremely sympathetic to SL debtors and unsympathetic to the law schools and other college programs that have taken the (extremely unwise) unlimited federal underwriting of student debt as an opportunity to gouge the students to the nth degree, with serious resulting harm to society and mcuh of the nation's brightest (if naive) talent.

    The commenter at 4:58 is exactly right about how conservatives generally approach this issue. I am open to supporting many different policy responses, especially a cap on federal SL underwriting per student per year, which I think will go far to restrain price increases, or providing that the schools themselves bear the risk of non-payment on the loans.

    I would be very angered by blanket SL forgiveness, not least because I just finished paying off substantial SL loans for both me and my wife after 10 years and it would be deeply unfair if my tax dollars (and the tax dollars of people who did not finish college because they were responsible enough to know better than to debt-finance it to the hilt) were now used to simply waive others' debts. Such loan forgiveness also would do nothing to address the structural problem.

  97. A futher note on conservatives' approach to this issue...Glenn Reynolds, a conservative/libertarian University of Tennessee law professor and proprietor of the prolific and very high-traffic blog Instapundit, has for some time posted a recurring series on the "higher education bubble." A search for that phrase at will turn up scores of posts.

  98. 11:02,

    If you are so against SL forgiveness, wouldn't you be just as upset if schools began charging 1/4 of the tuition that you paid to future students?

  99. To 11:02 -

    I would be thrilled if schools began charging much less tuition that I paid to future students because it would be good for the country. The SL debt crisis is delaying family formation, home ownership (which is a good things when prices are in line with value as they mostly are now), and creating cynicism. And it is only enriching ed bureaucracies that, too often, tend to go out of their way to spit on many of my values.

    Signed, 11:02/11:07.

  100. sigh..."than I paid"..."which is a good thing"...

  101. Jeez, having trouble commenting. My post at 11:25 was directed to 11:16, not myself at 11:02. I'll get the hang of this, promise.

  102. 11:27,

    In that case, shouldn't SLs be discharged because it will be good for the country and similar reasons that you mentioned? The logic for SL discharge and SL forgiveness is pretty similar.

  103. Oops I meant:

    The logic for SL discharge and tuition reduction seems pretty similar.

  104. WCL,

    Maybe, maybe not. SL forgiveness definitely means money being taken from taxpayers. Reduced tuition may mean money taken from taxpayers if law schools don't cut their budget and somehow wrangle more money from the govt.

  105. WCL: The logic of loan forgiveness is not the same as reduced tuition. Reduced tuition means schools charging a more reasonable price for their product based, for example, on the removal of price-distorting unlimited federal subsidies for student debt. Students and the government would no longer be overcharged, which is where this all needs to go. There is no unfairness to anybody - just progress.

    Loan forgiveness, on the other hand, means taxpayer money being spent so that people who received an (unfortunately overpriced) education have that valuable asset paid for by people who either paid for their own expensive education or never received that level of education because they had the good sense not to borrow too much to get it.

    When you take away the debt, highly educated people are advantaged by their education over the less educated. It would be profoudly unfair to make the less educated pay one dime to forgive the education debt of others. It is likewise unfair to make people who scrimped and saved to pay off their own SLs pay for others' SLs.

  106. Who owes what to whom?

    The debtor and indebted cannot be separated.

    Seeing this empty symbolism, we dissolve the illusion.

  107. "SL forgiveness definitely means money being taken from taxpayers."

    I would disagree with this. The money was taken from the taxpayers when the loans were taken out and the proceeds paid to the law schools.

    Now the question is whether the government should attempt to collect massive amounts of debt from people who cannot repay it. I use the word "attempt" becaus one thing is absolutely certain: the government will not be able to collect this money from people who are unemployed or who are underemployed. While the government can recoup some of this debt, it comes at a tremendous economic and social cost.

    In other words, we are crying about spilt milk -- that is, misallocated public resources. The problem should have been dealt with at the front end -- at the time the government was pouring out tens of millions of dollars to created more lawyers in a glutted market.

    The truth of the matter is, the government does not need money. The government has a monopoly on the creation of money. It can "print" money whenever it wants. In fact, when the nation is in a liquidity trap, that is exactly the solution given by conservative economists like Milton Friedman: print money and keep on printing it until the recession ends.

    The government gets absolutely no benefit from collecting these student loans, even if it were able to do so. However, it will cause much misery by attempting to collect these uncollectable debts.

    A far better approach would be to use a European model of providing a free or heavily subsidized education, rather than extending educational loans which far exceed the recipients' abiity to pay.

  108. I am curious about a new practice of Michigan State (and possibly other schools), that a 2011 grad told me about.
    He said that the school contacted him to say that if he could find a place to work, and get them to pay him $10/hr, that MSU would reimburse the organization the money.
    Is the goal of this practice to allow MSU to report the person as being paid by an outside organization, rather than the school? This seems to be an extremely deceptive practice, unless it is reported that MSU is footing the bill for the person’s salary. It is also very unlikely that this funding would last much past the all-important “9 months after graduation” date.

  109. Bullshit stats from Georgetown Law:

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