Saturday, March 31, 2012

Michigan's real employment numbers

I spoke at Michigan Law School yesterday to a group of around 100 people.  The audience was made up  mostly of current law students, with a few prospective students mixed in, along with one tenure-track faculty member and one administrator.  People asked a number of good questions afterwards, so we had a lively discussion.

The most thought-provoking question was asked by a man who I would guess was in his early 20s, and who I believe was a prospective student.  Paraphrasing, he asked me what I had to say about the position of people such as himself, who were graduating from college with no apparent good options in terms of career choices.  He acknowledged that the information I presented suggested that law school, even an elite law school such as Michigan, was in many ways a very risky and even flat-out bad gamble under present circumstances, but on the other hand what are young people who have been preparing all their lives to be professional-class persons supposed to do?

It's a good question, to which I don't have anything like a satisfactory answer.  Pointing out that his generation has to a significant extent gotten screwed by economic and social circumstances may be accurate, but the short-term practical value of this insight in minimal.  The long-term value may be something else, since a more general recognition of this could be a starting point for various sorts of reforms in the structure of higher education, not just law school.

I also had a spirited exchange with the one faculty member in attendance, who acknowledged that I was making a lot of good points about the need for genuine reform, but that I was in his opinion interfering with the message by making certain hyperbolic statements.  I spoke to him privately afterwards, and came away with the sense that there are at least some people on the UMLS faculty who actually do believe there's a serious long-term structural problem with legal education in general as well as at their school in particular. So that was encouraging.

The most interesting piece of information I picked up was that according to a 3L who has seen the numbers UMLS paid for about 70 "post-graduate fellowships" in the class of 2011. The way this works, apparently, is that graduates who are still unemployed at the end of the summer are told that if they secure a volunteer position the school will pay them a few thousand dollars (the number I was quoted was $4000, total).

Graduates who accept are then counted as employed full-time for the purposes of the nine-month NALP data.  I was told that around 15% of the 2010 class had such fellowships, while closer to 20% of the 2011 class had accepted them. I was also told that the number was likely to be lower for this year's graduating class compared to last year's, because last year's class was given bad advice by the career service office in regard to bidding for positions with Chicago law firms (far too many people bid given the state of the Chicago big firm legal market).  I was also told an unspecified number of these fellowships had developed into real jobs (that would also be a good number for the school to make public).

Michigan is my alma mater three times over, including the law school, and I retain great affection for the institution in general and the law school in particular.  So it was extremely disheartening to hear that the law school's administration has seemingly gone to such lengths to hide such a crucial piece of information from prospective students, current students, and apparently the school's faculty (I spoke at length with a friend of mine on the faculty later in the day, and I'm certain he knew nothing about any of this). 

If 15% or more of Michigan's recent graduating classes have been unemployed several months after graduation then this is something people who are spending, or considering spending, $70,000 dollars a year to go to law school in Ann Arbor need to know.  It's also something the law school's faculty needs to know.

Of course I welcome any clarifications or corrections the law school's administration may wish to make in regard to this information, and will certainly publicize them, should there be any.  But after hearing all this, I went back and re-read the administration's semi-official reaction to David Segal's first New York Times piece on law school unemployment.  Unless what I was told regarding the post-graduate program is seriously inaccurate (and I was also told the numbers for the class of either 2010 or 2011 were actually posted on the web site for a few days) that response, written little more than a year ago, does not do credit to an institution for which I still care deeply.


  1. Apparently, the school has been encouraging its students to become doc review monkeys in India. Check out this article, from ATL's Elie Mystal, from June 25, 2010:

    "The University of Michigan Law School — the 9th-best law school in America — is now posting job opportunities from India.

    Has it really gotten bad enough that graduates from a top law school should consider international LPO opportunities? Yes, yes it has….

    The job is for Pangea3, one of the largest legal outsourcing companies on the market. Look at how they try to spin the “opportunity” for a bunch of Michigan students:

    Role: Legal Research – Associate.
    Designation: Associate.
    Department: Litigation.
    Reports to: Sr. Manager – Litigation.

    Job Description: Pangea3 is looking for a recent law school graduate who’s looking for an alternative to the law firm route. The position will offer a U.S. attorney the opportunity to gain a global perspective on the legal services industry by joining a cutting-edge, dynamic, and fast-growing industry in an exciting, rapidly changing part of the world…

    The Associate will be based in our state-of-the- art, ISO-certified facility in Mumbai, India. Candidate Profile: Recent Law graduates; Remuneration: Compensation includes competitive benefits and bonus."

    His closing comments:

    "If you go to a top ten law school and end up having to go to India to find work, your law school shouldn’t just forgive all of your debts — it should forgive all your debts and furnish you with a public apology."

    If things are this bad at a perennial top 10 law school, imagine the situation at lower-tiered diploma mills.

  2. I don't play the lottery, even though almost every attorney I know does. I know one attorney who purchases at least $200 worth of scratch-off lottery tickets every week. I asked him why he spends so much money on lottery tickets and his reply was: "I want to get the fuck out of this profession."

    For the past few days all I kept hearing in the news and from other people was the historic mega millions lottery drawing. The radio station kept playing "I want to be a Billionaire so freaking bad." The people waiting on line for hours just to buy a ticket are desperate to go through any lengths to hit that jackpot.

    I bring the lottery issue up with relation to this post because college grads continue to believe that a law degree is the equivalent of a lottery ticket. I am sure the 20 year-old kid who asked Prof. Campos the poignant question believes or at least was led to believe that a law degree from an elite institution has a better chance of hitting jackpot. And yet, there are established and successful lawyers out there that play the lottery with the hopes of winning and escaping this profession for good.

    Kids today grew up with the trappings of comfort and the illusion that being a lawyer is prestigious. This is simply untrue as I know many lawyers on the other side of the coin that are struggling. Law school is one hell of an expensive lottery ticket. The people who waited on those lines to purchase a ticket only waited at most a few hours and spent a few dollars on some tickets. The college grad who had the exchange with Prof. Campos will spend three years of his life (those 3 years are gold when you are looking back at your life in your 50s) and almost $200K just to play a game where the rules are stacked against you. This is madness indeed. Prof. Campos, I would have told that kid to do anything else but law school.


  3. Hopefully the Ann Arbor barista market is somewhat less cutthroat.

  4. Thank you professor for writing a post. After yesterday's post about cutting down on the number of postings, I plan on showing more appreciation as a frequent reader and supporter.

    On a side note, I wanted to let you know that every Tuesday morning, I walk into UCLA classrooms and write your URL on as many lecture halls as I can. Dodd hall, Haines Hall, Schoenberg Hall, basically every major lecture hall that may have the most number of potential law school applicants. Please don't give up the fight!

  5. "what are young people who have been preparing all their lives to be professional-class persons supposed to do?"

    There really needs to be another blog entitled "inside the social science Bachelor's Degree scam"

    There aren't jobs for a vast majority of psych majors, sociology majors, poli sci majors, philosophy majors, history majors, etc. A big part of the law school problem occurs because the U.S. college system produces so many students who, simply put, aren't much better off after recieving a 4 year degree. The bigger picture is that far too many students pursue skills and areas of study that society doesn't value.

  6. @9:08: very true, but at least some of those people pursue those degrees for law school: learn how to read and write. After all, your typical high school student can't read or write worth of shit. I believe they came out with studies that significant percentage of American high school grads have weak reading comprehension.

    The irony of the situation that law school writing is shit taught by shit faculty who themselves can't write.

  7. Glad your retirement was only for a day, LawProf.

  8. 9:22, learning how to read and write shouldn't cost $150,000.

  9. To be fair, any school that primarily feeds into Chicago has gotten completely wrecked the last few years. At least Michigan students have other options. What happens to folks at Illinois, Loyola, Depaul, even Northwestern and Chicago? Wrecked.

  10. @10:29: I meant that people go into liberal arts/social science degrees to learn how to read and write for law school. Law schools suck at teaching how to write.

  11. I thought that Northwestern hiring was still pretty decent. I'm not sure if this is the same year as you are talking about for Michigan having sent too many people to Chicago.

    And, lawprof, I think that many professors are still in denial, or they blame the lack of getting a job on the student. I think keeping to hammer home actual hiring numbers is very valuable.

  12. Oh lawprof, in your post about trap schools, I mentioned that someone on TLS was complaining about how elitist that concept was. By classifying GWU as a trap school you were trampling on her dreams.

    The same poster is now on TLS telling people that they should listen to you. I guess that counts as progress!

    People are very resistant to the idea that their dream won't come true. They don't have other options, they don't have the scores to get into a top school and they resent anyone telling them otherwise.

  13. @9:08 Perhaps social science degrees aren't leading to jobs -- but telling kids to all go study engineering, like it or not, is like telling the T50 kids who can't get jobs that they should've studied harder for the LSAT -- it's pretending that everybody can win at musical chairs if we just tell them all to run faster.

    Direct funding to universities is the only way to reduce prices[1]. Ending the student-loan subsidy could help, but would torpedo access; and the current scamblog movement is too focused on scaring kids out of going to law school. In all of these situations, the individual-level effort cannot fix things. In studying STEM, it just depresses wages for engineers. In law schools, it creates a game of chicken: everybody knows someone needs to swerve, but whoever is left will have a good shot at a good job.

    And in any event, either dropping loans or just plain advising away non-rich kids only serves worsen the class divide, by returning exclusive access to a prestigious and lucrative profession back to the wealthy.


  14. I think you are missing the entire point of this blog with the "prestigious and lucrative" profession quote. If a person can take out loans and get into a school that will let them get a job to repay their debt, then they should go to law school. No one else should go. The loans are only an issue when you won't be able to repay them.

    So, yes, I guess, wealthy kids can afford to go to schools that won't help them get jobs, but that doesn't mean it is worth their time.

  15. In law schools, it creates a game of chicken: everybody knows someone needs to swerve, but whoever is left will have a good shot at a good job.

    This is also not true. One half of law students could drop out and there would still not be enough jobs. There would definitely not be enough good jobs.

  16. "The most thought-provoking question was asked by a man who I would guess was in his early 20s, and who I believe was a prospective student. Paraphrasing, he asked me what I had to say about the position of people such as himself, who were graduating from college with no apparent good options in terms of career choices. He acknowledged that the information I presented suggested that law school, even an elite law school such as Michigan, was in many ways a very risky and even flat-out bad gamble under present circumstances, but on the other hand what are young people who have been preparing all their lives to be professional-class persons supposed to do?"

    People don't go into the kind of debt that education in general, and law school specifically, require, unless they are desperate.

    Incidentally, the question is wrong. There's a kind of upper class mentality at this site that I find irritating. What's the average income of the families of those who applying to law school?

  17. The right question is "why are people so desperate?"

  18. I think the "desperation" actually does come from a sense of entitlement.  There is a generation of people coming of age today who feel entitled to a "professional" job.  I do not blame them for this.  This is not their fault.  And it doesn't help that everybody expects them to become that and will call them a failure when they don't.  

    There are jobs out there, they just aren't "professional".  Retail, food service, management.  You can still earn a living and pay off your (undergrad) loans, you just have to be willing to be socially mobile in the downward direction.  I think that this is just the reality for a lot of people, they are going to have to accept this eventually.  

  19. The desperation comes from the fact that the U.S., and more specifically the middle class, is in economic decline, and under economic pressure.

    One can choose to be delusional by thinking that decline is a sense of "entitlement" or one can realize that lowered economic standards means impoverishment.

  20. Poorer people do more desperate things than wealthier people.

  21. 316

    Of course, anyone babbling on about "entitlement" in face of the general economic decline in this country is going to be hostile and say "fuck off." What other argument do you have? None.

    1. Just where the t-shirt that has EIIGY POCR OFF on it and say FUCK OFF whenever you feel like it. I feel like it lots! That's why I have one...

  22. I would tell your 20-something to look around and think about what he or she would like to do.

    The 20-something generation can succeed. Law school is just not a good bet today. It is hard to find a job doing anything in any industry that is more than menial and not completely dead end. You can spend a year working at Starbucks after college while you look for a job in real estate, accounting, insurance, human resources, managing a shopping center or working in tech, as examples.

    The job you find may pay $30,000 a year, or less. Point is that some people who are smart and ambitious will be successful in their industry. They will start from the bottom, and move up, move companies, make business contacts and even form successful businesses.

    No one hands you success on a silver plater. It comes from years of hard work and often following a career path that is difficult and surely not a traditional path.

    These students need to have self confidence. If you don't want an MBA, and you don't want to be a doctor, dentist, engineer or pharmacist,you need to follow your instincts and try to do what appeals to you most.

    Law school isn't a good bet. It is no excuse to say, I have to work for peanuts, or have been at Starbucks for 10 months, so I am going to embark on a suicide mission to law school. You are just avoiding the time and effort needed to get a job with a future career path and taking on the hard work you need to do to follow that career path.

  23. 5:05, I respectfully disagree with your implicit "pull oneself up by bootstraps" argument. No one is asking for success to be handed to them on a silver platter, but people are asking for the opportunity for a middle class life if they work hard and play fair. While I agree that law school is a bad bet and I personally regret taking on debt to be a law student, the law school scam is only an extreme version of the Catch-22 that faces all of America's young: You must have a college/professional degree to get any sort of job where you can make a middle class living, but in order to get that degree, in most cases you have to take on debt that with high tuition and usurious interest rates can quickly become crippling.

    We have to finally admit as a society that the game is rigged, that social mobility has greatly declined in this country, and that we have become a class-based society where nepotism trumps hard work every time. So long as myths like 5:05's continue to be trumpeted, we will not be able to face the facts or make a society with true equality of opportunity.

    Just a personal anecdote, I can easily see how class differences affect opportunity even within my top ten school. One of my study partners first year clearly didn't understand the material AT ALL, and admitted to completely fucking up the exam, but his family is close friends with the prof, and voila, he got a 4.0 in that class! (in contrast to mediocre grades in other classes). Even with a low GPA and no law journal experience, he went on to land a plush summer job in DC at the law firm where his daddy's company is the biggest client. This was after he struck out at OCI with no call backs. Did I mention he went to Yale for undergrad as a legacy admission? I have no doubt he will have more access to power than me, even though I have been a far more successful law student.

    (I changed some of the specific facts in the story, btw).

  24. "No one hands you success on a silver plater. It comes from years of hard work and often following a career path that is difficult and surely not a traditional path."

    No one, really? Because from what I see around me at my t1, 10% got it and the rest only got what their parents can get them.

    Some got shit law job (funny how it's called shit law but half of my class can't even get that) others went solo on while their parents are paying off loans and supporting them AND hooking them up with some clients.

    Those whose parents got no money are fucked. And that's the sad part. Those kids are not stupid or lazy or socially incompetent. Their parents don't know lawyers, their parents got no money. They are forced to work for anything, go into IBR, and have their lives ruined for 20-25 years. They can't work for free because they got to eat. School funded shit does not cover jack. Try living on 4k for 4 months while you got to study and take the bar.

    This is the new America, and it has been for a while. So do me a favor and shut the fuck up.

    Universities like to talk about how they let the poor in and how they help the poor child. True, but every poor child that gets hooked up, you have 99 kids who just got it on the silver platter.

    Baby boomer generation were given a lot but they do not acknowledge that. They sit around circle jerking each other and talking about how they earned with hard work.

    Most of law kids won't even have a chance to earn it or to work hard, they will just fall through the cracks of our society. They will be dismissed as sorry loser that did not earn it with hard work.

    They deserve what they got because they were stupid enough to believe that when you take out loans to go to decent school you should be able to earn enough to pay for them. Fuck, maybe they just thought they can get A JOB and work their way up. But no, lawyer jobs are for the elite and we going to keep that way while law schools straight profiting.

  25. 1. They lure kids into law schools with deceptive placement stats.

    2. They greedily accept 40,000-50,000 law students every year who, upon graduation, will have to compete for about 20,000 or so lawyer jobs.

    3. They take three years to teach what a bar review course teaches in seven weeks, and charge around 120K.

    4. They pay 6-figure salaries to professors of law who wouldn't know a courtroom from a faculty lounge.

    5. The overwhelming majority of their recent graduates lack the ability to try a case or represent a client on any matter.

    6. And, now, they throw a few bucks at unemployed grads to volunteer at a law office somewhere so that they can tabulate those grads as having successful employment outcomes. (See point 1)

    What a disgraceful scam system. It would be better to abolish law school altogether. It would be better to replace law school with the 19th century system of apprecenticeships. Or, perhaps, with a structured series of apprenticeships and clinics in various practice areas.


  26. I have posted here before. I just want to reiterate that there are way way too many lawyers. I started in the biological sciences and got seduced by the law school scam. I am still doing fine, but I would not be if I graduated since 2000. Even if you get a high paying job out of law school, you won't keep it. There is no reliable data demonstrating the misery of the thousands who get high paying jobs briefly, but then get fired or laid off. I have lived it for 20 years and seen it. Law is a miserable business, and no one should go to law school under any circumstances. Please, please study something for which there is a demand, e.g. engineering, information technology, nursing, medicine, etc.

  27. @ 1:00am

    What happens if everyone gets an engineering degree?

  28. 2:06

    The same thing that happened with lawyers.

    1:00 AM is advocating the delusional belief that "there is always green pastures somewhere in the American economy" argument (the "safe harbor argument"). The "safe harbor argument" says there is always some job somewhere else (sometimes the argument doesn't even mention the job) that either one can take, or retrain to take, or should have taken, and that will solve the problem.

    Its a saner delusion than the "entitlement" argument because its at least not blaming individuals for the nature of the overall economy in which they work, but nevertheless a delusion because it never asks are "there limits to whether we can find jobs or not?" It pretends jobs are not in limited supply. so, while one may have a better chance in the sciences, what happens if everyone moves that direction as suggested is never answered? What happens with competition if countries abroad are also producing graduates with the same degrees? There is a maximum number that can be absorbed in these others degrees, which aren't cheap to get either.

    Part of the issue with American law is that its no longer just American law. Its globalized just like everything else. But, we are supposed to pretend that its not. That the problem isn't that there is a limit to how many jobs are out there. That we are "entitled" Just like I suppose the Egyptians were "entitled" because they earned a degree and expected to work in their chosen field or the rest of the world facing similar issues of high unemployment for the young are facing because there are not enough jobs globally to go around.

    A fraction of us will get ahead in this economy, most will tread water, and the rest will fall through the cracks, whether they deserved it or not. A growing percentage in fact will just fall through the cracks. If you look at the numbers over time as I remember they slowly been getting worse (e.g., someone already mentioned decreased social mobility). Bit by bit that's going to make people more desperate.

  29. The desperation argument goes to Law Prof point that choosing law is irrational. I agree. So, one has to next ask why are they still choosing law? Are they just glutton's for punishment, is it really as simple as they don't think it can happen to them, or is the reality something we don't want to admit (since the lower middle class has a problem dealing with reality), and that's that they are desperate.

  30. 1:00 AM:

    This is how bad information gets passed along. The whole idea that nursing and engineering are somehow "safe" majors is BS.

    Have you talked to an engineer lately? They are about as fucked as lawyers. Nurses as well. Isn't that two of the categories in "STEM." I live in a major metropolitan area and both of those areas are flooded. Engineers and inexperienced nurses have it as bad or worse than lawyers. RESEARCH before spouting off.

  31. I don't think people realize they are making an irrational choice. I try to inform people about he risks on TLS. The amount of resistance to advice against going to law school is high. The site is full of 0Ls backing up each other's bad decisions, even when more experienced people tell the 0Ls they are making a bad choice.

    Instead of trying to guess what is driving 0Ls you should spend some time reading the thoughts they post on TLS. They refuse to acknowledge that they are making a bad decision, let alone an irrational one.

  32. "since the lower middle class has a problem dealing with reality"

    Last time I checked lower middle class and the working are living the reality.

    In any case, those are not the people going to law school. I think Campos mentioned something like 80% percent of law students come from the households that are above median.

    To be honest, I find this comment offensive. It is the wealthy Americans that have hard time dealing with reality. They just do not see that just because "they earned with hard work" does not make everyone else a desperate loser. They do not see that opportunities are not there and that 45K is more 25K. They live their nice lives while talking about how great and fair American system is. How the underdog can always make it if they work hard. But like I said above, thing is nothing but a circle jerk. I do not see your regular American talk about how great and fair this country is. Or how easy it is for them to get ahead.

    Colleges and parents set kids are to go to law school because it is an honorable profession like, medicine or engineering.

    I am willing to be that most kids went to law school because that was their plan all long and NOT because they were desperate.

    In fact, when I went to law school I was following my dream. Now I am desperate to get a legal job, to a get a job, or just to have a chance to fucking earn a living.

    I agree, that you got to be a fool to enter law school this fall. The news is out so you got to be blind not to see. However, this is a recent development and we do not know yet how it will effect admissions. So the whole desperate argument is coming out of people's asses because we don't know yet how the informed student will react.

    The bottom line: those kids might be stupid or desperate BUT they will waste our money on shit degree to enrich some old fucks that never held a real job.

    The fact that out system allows for this just shows how corrupt we have become. And I am not talking 3rd world country corrupt. We are are talking the new age of corruption where the elite is able to get laws passed that benefit them at expense of the rest of population. Essentially, they can do their dirty deed with government stump of approval and then blame the victims as being stupid fucks that are too lazy and socially incompetent to get a job. After all they just did not earn it the hard way. This is a generation of entitled pussies.

    I guess whatever makes those people sleep at night. But time will come when my generation will get into power and I doubt we will have much pity for those old fucks. I feel bad saying it, but I sense that young people will not forgive the 45+ for what they did to this country and to our futures.

  33. (a) i don't realy care about the economics of upper class americans living above the median. So when I speak of the issue of debt, I am only considering them. There's nothing offensive about saying that poverty breeds desperation. One of the reason I slowly pulled myself out of it is was to be realize what affects it was having on my thinking. That a lack of resources leads to short term distraction about choice. Anyone offended by the idea that poverty affects one's thinking has never been poor or never understood its affects. Wealthy doesn't make you smart, but it does means your focus is less distracted by economic issues of "how do I get out of this mess"

    (b) I would like to see some real stats on that from Campos. My problem with him at times is that I see him write stuff that i know is inaccurate as far as median- such as one time he wrote about the median for teachers, and he had it much higher than it actually is.

    (c) I find it hard to believe that the people going to law school are somehow separate from the rest of the gen population. That population is economically more desperate than in the past. But law schools students are separate from this? I don't see it.

  34. sorry for the typos. I write my posts fast without editing.

  35. Let me tell you a liitle story and i think it will highlight how valuable this blog really is. I live in Charlottesville, Va. Home of UVA. So I am awalikng to my car Friday afternoon and i see 4 young men leaving one of our local wing place. They all have on Emory Law school tshirts. So i ask them what brings them into town and they are here for a softball tournament. So i ask them if there Law students and they reply yes. So i ask them if theynhave heard of the law school scam movement and ot Professor Paul Campos and they all say no. They looked at me like i was crazy so i told them to Google it. Either they were lying about it or they must be living under a rock down there in Atlanta.

  36. It's the 55+ who have ruined this country beyond belief.

    When our generation, young adults currently in their mid 20's to early 30's get into power, this country will rise to the top again.

    Until then, we are fucked with old pathetic boomers. Disgusting.

    Worst generation in American history.

  37. Sorry for the typos, but typing and correcting on the IPAD can be a pain.

  38. Was this recorded anywhere?

  39. @6:43

    You're actually just restating the question that prompted this post. It's this:

    "Given that we live in a society that seems to offer no avenues for social advancement, what alternatives exist for people who want to better themselves?"

    That's the question nobody can answer. And if there aren't any -- if your choice is bet the farm at a craps game or watch it slowly blow away anyway -- why not take the risk?

    You cannot fix this by shuffling people off into different industries. The problem is that our society has chosen to ration opportunity. We've decided that all economic growth goes to the top 1%. That's why there are no jobs. That's why the rest of us get to play musical chairs, instead of some more positive-sum game.

    And again I insist, individual-level solutions won't fix it. If we categorically shut out the lower-income half of law school applicants, all we do is improve employment rates for the wealthy remainder while reducing class mobility for the shut-out. We need to create more jobs, in this as in every other field. And the only way to do that is through industrial policy and government-driven investment.

  40. How do unemployed/underemployed people get iPads?

  41. Not everyone here is unemployed or underemployed. I have a job right now.

  42. 1135

    I am the guy who wrote 643, and I am in agreement with you. My problem with the Prof is not the question, but the idea that there is some rational choice left under the current system. I don't believe there is. I think its just luck who makes it to the top and who doesn't.

  43. The University Cowman and the Student Farmer Should be Friends!

    Territory folks should stick together,
    Territory folks should all be pals.
    Cowboys dance with farmer's daughters,
    Farmers dance with the ranchers' gals. (repeat)

  44. You should have told that punk kid three simple words:


    Would that punk asshole be asking you what other options he had if he wasn't able to borrow money from taxpayers, that he admits he wouldn't be able to pay back? No. There would be no three year taxpayer funded vacation before he enters the real world. He'd enter it now, without first raping our devastated national finances.

    I'd like to punch that kid in the face.

  45. I really and sincerely do not understand why you keep attacking schools for giving students money for fake jobs. How is that a bad thing, relative to giving them nothing and kicking them out on they're ass?

  46. LawProf, I wish I knew you were going to be at Michigan... I would have been there to hear you speak and maybe meet you in person... I would have been there with other Attorneys who all attended U of M and who are all fully employed... One again I am repeating that ALL the students who graduated in 2008 & 2009 are all employed and most get a 6 figure salary. One of our friends is making 80k a year as an in-house Attorney but she counts her blessings because she is employed. I do not know what happened for 2010 & 11 to have as many as 15% unemployed??.. I am sure that has be rectified by now..

    I really wish we had known you were going to be in Michigan..Some of us would have driven & some would have flown in to hear & see you..

    We are very concerned with what is happening & a few (very few) of us are on the hiring teams we hope to do a good job of getting people's dreams fulfilled..

  47. "There would be no three year taxpayer funded vacation before he enters the real world."

    Did you even go to law school?

  48. "I really and sincerely do not understand why you keep attacking schools for giving students money for fake jobs. How is that a bad thing, relative to giving them nothing and kicking them out on they're ass?"

    Because law schools are taking money from the current students and giving it to the graduates.

  49. really and sincerely do not understand why you keep attacking schools for giving students money for fake jobs. How is that a bad thing, relative to giving them nothing and kicking them out on they're ass?

    APRIL 1, 2012 1:43 PM

    Because the schools only created these fake jobs to boost their employment statistics. These fake jobs, the surprising number of them even at top schools, and the use of the numbers to boost employment at 9 months out has only recently been uncovered.

    Do not be fooled into thinking the schools created these jobs solely to benefit the students. Schools wanted to pad their employment statistics so they can provide a much better picture than reality, ie. lie.

  50. How much of your complaints are due to (a) small peni (in the case of men) or (b) small breasts (in teh case of women?)

  51. Why is getting married an "allegation"?

  52. THis post confirms that there is a big difference between the T6 and the T14. You really need to get into HYSCCN to be guaranteed a good job.

  53. the above poster sounds like a tls prestige whore.

  54. I think there's no doubt that every law school has suffered in terms of employment, particularly in the last 2 years (though it sounds like this year will be a positive up-turn)

    I would assume that Michigan would suffer more than most, as more students self-select into public interest law than students at schools like Virginia, Penn, and the NY schools.

    It seems like both sides (Campos, law deans) use data to demonstrate, or at times manipulate, arguments. Both sides also accuse the other of relying upon anecdotes.

    I am aware of this, but did speak with probably 50 or so current Michigan students this weekend. I did my due diligence to really reach out to any random person I encountered. Almost all were open about their positions in the class and their job prospects. The only ones who did not have a position were honest about being toward the bottom of their class.

    Michigan also DID openly address these "fellowships" at its admitted students' weekend. They stated that they have existed for years, though admittedly have become more common in the last 2 years.

    With any profession or graduate program, there is risk involved. The risk is that you end up at the bottom of the pile and do not reap the rewards. I see no indication that someone in the top 75% of their class at Michigan is necessarily in "trouble" in terms of employment. Obviously these risks are mitigated at a top 6 school, but as a prospective student, I see no reason to believe Michigan is in particular trouble. This is still one of the best 10 law schools in the country, and MOST of its students are happily employed where they want to be upon graduation.

  55. It may sound improbable, but some of the people commenting on this blog and pounding the pavements will end up just fine. Many others not, given the supply/demand imbalance. Your first job does not determine your future.

    No law school guarantees employment. Biglaw fires most of their lawyers. The lucky ones get other jobs afterwards. The not so lucky suffer with unemployment or underemployment for life.

    You should blame law school administrators for the supply/demand imbalance and for manipulating the truth. They created a system where it is very hard to hold a legal job as you age because the number of new lawyers puts pressure on legal employers to fire older lawyers to make room for new people. They turn their backs to the employment outcomes of experienced grads - never even ask how many are employed.

    There is a conflict of interest here. The law schools care only about new grads. It is in the interest of the law schools to have experienced lawyers fired to make room for new grads.

    When CLS Dean Schizer says all of this does not affect CLS, he has his fingers crossed behind his back because he is ignoring all the CLS grads who were let go without jobs to make room for the newly expanded CLS class with its 90 transfers.

  56. one of the ways to test whether someone is being sincere is their level of hyperbole (or out rate straw man argument) is debating others who disagree with them. For example the more extreme the "its your responsibility" types become, and the more juvenile they become, it becomes clear they have no argument for why their received wisdom is right beyond they believe it. They are good little fundamentalists spouting doctrine.

  57. I don't know, labeling your opponents as good little fundamentalists who are merely spouting received wisdom strikes me as pretty hyperbolic. Surely individual responsibility on the part of students enters into the picture somewhere. There are, of course, trolls on here who ignore the other side of the argument (manipulation of data, social class, etc.), but this doesn't negate the fact that some of those thousands marching off to the Thomas Jeffersons and Cooleys of the world for six figure debt really should have known better.

    This is a complex problem with no easy solutions.

  58. @1:00AM

    "Law is a miserable business."

    Actually, I enjoy the practice of law immensely - as do my partners. I am always stunned by how many lawyers describe law as miserable drudgery, boring, etc. One of the first things that strikes me is that they have somewhat limited life experiences. I have a science degree too, but summers in college I worked variously as a short order chef and a construction carpenter for a big construction company and a small housebuilder - and I briefly had jobs in boatbuilding (fiberglass yachts) and assembling videographics systems and in sales and in the accounting department of one of the top 10 by size lawfirms (dealing with lawyers' monthly billing, expenses and disbursements.)

    Until you have climbed in 100 degree heat and 100 degree humidity 10 stories while carrying 150+ pounds of tools, cables, etc. - had to approach a stinking sani-john and face using it, cleaned an eight foot grill while hot (down to the metal), assembled $20,000 systems (pulling parts and configuring), or manually with a paper tape calculator added up thousands of expense entries because a Wang network was having brainfarts - all for a small paycheck - you have not experienced misery and drudgery. Moreover, in the construction carpenter business (non-finish), many of the carpenters are "done" in their 40s as their old knees no longer take the climbing and summers in scorching heat and winters in icy cold take their toll.

    Nonetheless, I encounter so many people who find the law boring and tedious - and they are generally awful to work with - they are the one who scream at associates, bully colleagues and are often ethically challenged. And they are also the ones who call legal practice drudgery...

    One of the huge problems that has resulted from the current law school situation, the huge marginal revenues Universities score by adding one more law student - the 50,000 odd places in law school is that many of the people going to law school are fundamentally unsuited to being lawyers - they are not interested in law, they are bored by the work, they don't care about their clients, and they want instantly to be earning a high salary (cf the infamous late 90s and early 00s "Greedy Associates" board.) Law a s a profession is one where experience drives ability - where the value of a good lawyers time rises steadily through their career because the knowledge a lawyer interested in his or her craft gains with experience makes them a better at the business. It take 10 years to get to be good, 20 to be very very good. You should not become a lawyer if you think the law is boring, if your only reason for going to law school is to join a "bourgeois profession" and earn a big paycheck, if you do not know what lawyers actually do, day-to-day, or if you are not willing to spend 10 years learning your craft.


  59. You are right on this score, MacK. No one should go to law school just to make money.And it is boring compared to what? All professions have their share of drudgery. But for people who are suited to them, there are things that make them worthwhile. Still, people do make mistakes and enter profressions they should not be in, and then "the grass is always greener", and all that.

  60. Thanks, MacK. Yours is a perspective I wish we heard more often. One of the challenges of working with pre-law students is that so few have experiences such as yours (or mine; I worked retail for years, where I was screamed at and belittled by petulant managers, mean customers, and the like.) But no matter how bad things get, I never forget how awful some of my retail jobs were!

  61. "No one should go to law school just to make money." Although I understand where you are going with that statement, I do not think the wording is accurate. Why would you got to law school, or any school, if not to make money?

    Even lawyers thet enjoy law do it for money. I doubt MacK does not do it for free, he gets paid, so does Campos. But the young generation is told "don't do it for money," when everything our parents do IS for money.

    As for argument that law is boring, any profession is boring, that's why it is a fucking profession. Just got to find profession that you do not find boring personally.

  62. Glad to see a post up so quickly after your post about "semi retirement" for the blog. If nothing else, I'd love to see this kind of post once every week or three - a rundown on what happened when you wrote/spoke/whatever about the law school scam. If people are willing, I wouldn't mind hearing more about your conversations/emails with people who write you asking advice. Your sharp wit and willingness to cut through bullshit and actually discuss reality makes reading this blog an absolute joy, even if its narrow focus does lend itself to a bit of repetition.

  63. I said "just" to make money. I did not go to law school just to make money. That was not what I was thinking of. I could have made money doing other things, probably more money.

  64. MacK you are right on! Too many students go to Law School, because they got some shitty phsycology degree or some other worthless degree.

    1. At least shitty psychology majors know how to spell.

  65. It looks like the Alabama State Bar is doing a (little) something to respond to the law school problem. They have a new page titled "Thinking of Going to Law School?":

    They do state the the question about being able to afford law school is critically important. However, I wonder how many prospective law students actually look at state bar websites before making the decision to attend law school. Perhaps this site would be more effective the the schools themselves were required to post such information.

  66. I agree with Mack, until you work some shitty jobs, you don't really have a perspective on drudgery. I actually enjoyed a few of my labor/service jobs: the people, the sense of clear goals and accomplishments. However, I don't want to wash garbage cans, sling drinks, or get stung by bees atop a 50 foot ladder in the august sun for the rest of my life.

  67. No 1:00, not all facts are relevant merely because exist. Relevant facts are those that are causative. Is personal responsibility causative of our system of decreasing opportunities. If it is, you need to explain how that's the case, because that's the relevant question when looking at a system. Is personal responsibility causative of the structure of the legal industry, if so you need to explain how that's the case. Merely assigning personal responsibility to avoid discussions of the system as it is used here by those who throw it out is the same as someone throwing out Bible quotes when asked about science. You may believe everything you are saying, but its still pure belief. And there's nothing over the top in pointing out that's pure belief that fuels the personal responsibility mantra. Most of it is in fact things that people have been taught to think and say. Its nothin that answers the question of "how do we have more jobs in the economy" "How do we address education in our society" but it sure feels good, like all religious highs do.

  68. When the Michigan Dean wrote that clearly ridiculous post about their employment numbers, I pointed out that there was a zero percent chance that they were accurate. I was chastised.

    Is it fair to gloat now?

  69. the "just to make money" string of comments seems like more moralizing. Even if some percentage of people are getting into law for the wrong reasons (which happens in every career and decision people make),t here is no reason that decision should be life destroying. People aren't making the decision to commit a crime here. They are making bad financial choices based on a system of not very good financial choices about what job career to pick. No matter what degree one picks, the issue is that its impossible to really know until years into a position rather one really wants to work in the profession, and the whole conversation is really irrelevant to the question of what are the system of opportunities available to people regardless of their motivations for being there.

  70. I saw a 0L in an Elevator today in Farmington CT holding an LSAT practice book. She didn't know about this blog so I had to mention it. I'll be interested if she ever makes her way here.

  71. I do not agree. It is relevant to say that money alone is not enough to sustain satisfaction in a career-- any career. I do not know anyone who is truly good at what he or she does who is just interested in the money his or her work produces.

  72. The topic of conversation is about systemic outcomes rather than personal choice. It doesn't matter whether one really wants to do X or one wants to do X because of other reasons if X does not exist. If there are fewer job opportunities, that's going to be true regardless of motives of those seeking out the job. More jobs do not magically appear because the person has the right motives. Did you say what i just wrote? No. But that's the problem because your statements about motives aren't placed into context. Its only when they are placed into context of the conversation about opportunities that they are proven to be irrelevant. Thinking through what you just said, it makes little sense in the context of job opportunities and the supply of jobs. Its more moralizing and magical thinking. "If you have a positive attitude, and really want it, then it will exist." A career does not magically happen even if you deeply want it. It certainly does not make economic sense to argue that one should go into debt so long as one's motives are the right one.

  73. I do not see why the statement that money should not be the sole justification for going into a career bothers you. It is on point with the discussion about law's drudgery. If a person has gone into a career for money alone, it makes sense that the ordinary drudgery that is a part of that job will seem that much more unbearable.

    You have added interpretations to what I said that are not there. I did not say that people who have neither the aptitude nor money to go to law school should go.

  74. the same reason that babbling about personal responsibility bothers me. because it misses the point and fogs up the conversation with irrelevancies. its like being in a meeting discussing a contract about privacy based on the laws, and someone is babbling on about how they feel about the laws. it may make you feel better to discuss it, but it should have nothing to do with what goes into the contract as far as the laws regarding privacy are concern.

    and if you want to see why its irrelevant, here's a good analogous discussion. I knew a lot of people during the dot com era. They were very passionate about what they were doing. When the money dried up, it didn't matter. They still were out of jobs.

  75. in short, i worry about things I can affect. I can't affect motives. I leave things like motives to individuals. When discussing things I can affect, I think of actions that can be changed or intervened and what is required or what goal would like to be created. Etc. Not all this talk about what's in people's heart of hearts.

  76. @6:56 - of course I don't do it for free - but I do read on legal issues out of pure curiosity - I find the law interesting, even when I am not being paid. Yes, I work for money - and yes I draw these days six figures - but it is because of the fact that I find law interesting that I developed the skills and knowledge to make that sort of income. I was one of the annoying people in my class who was always asking questions...I did and do actually read casebooks and cases out of pure curiosity. I also take stuff apart to see how it works. Useful for a tech lawyer.

    Many professions are boring to people not in them, but the really successful are those who find the profession interesting - who see in some respects being paid as a bonus. I graduated into a shitty job market in 1992 - and it was interest in my craft that kept me at it. The market now is even shittier - but the kids who do make it will be the ones who are interested in law - because that will get them through what likely will be 5-10 very lean years.


  77. Again, I agree with MacK. There are people who are going to do well even in this market. Their lives are worthwhile, too. The message is for people out there who do have some sense of themselves---not everyone is equally clueless--and are deciding what path they might take. Do not pick a career just for money. You have said nothing that refutes that.

  78. I am not trying to refute a change of subject. I am pointing out that its a change of subject.

  79. By the way, the comments, if I were to address them directly, are fairy tale comments. They are based on the notion that if someone works hard, and they are interested in what they do, then they will be rewarded. Its magical thinking.

  80. It is not a change of subject from the conversation as it unfolded from some of the earliest comments. Threads evolve. They always do on this blog, which is one of the reasons the traffic remains high. If you do not like a particular tributary that springs up, you can ignore it or post only on what you take to be the main point.

    It is not always magical thinking. Some people are successful in life, and I do not just mean in terms of money. And their success is not always totally random.

  81. Hard work and passion that only results in the desired outcome is called "luck", and luck is not based on anything you can do about it. If you think it is, that's the magical thinking. Most people's success is totally random. It doesn't knock their abilities to point that out. I equate it to being an actor. there are some great actors out there, great talent, passionate, the whole nine yards, who never made it. That's just the reality. It doesn't mean the ones who are talented who made it didn't partake in their own success. but it is magical thinking to say they would have succeed with out that spark of luck and timing.

  82. should read "that only occasionally results in desired outcomes"

  83. the real question: Do we want an economy running on luck like we are in a casino?

  84. @MacK: I see your point but I have an issue with hard work argument. It is just not enough...

    I promised myself I will be a lawyer one way or the other even if it takes going solo straight out of school. I will work hard and hopefully get what I want: I will practice law. However, the only reason I will be able to do this is because my parents are generous enough to help me through those lean years. Otherwise I would be like a regular kid: got to get a job to eat.

  85. Of course luck is a part of it. Whoever said it was not? But you have to be prepared in order be in the position to be lucky. That is why I said being successful is not TOTALLY random.

  86. I would be interested in a source for the 20% figure. I was there this weekend for the Preview Weekend, and in the Q&A session with current students, the question of hiring recent graduates was asked directly. In answer, Dean Zearfoss stated that the number of recent graduates supported by the law school is 8. That's more like 2% of graduates than 20%. I understand that the Assistant Dean of Admissions would have every incentive to doctor this number, but this is an enormous discrpancy. Do you have a source for the 20% figure aside from "I was told"?

  87. As a member of the class of 2011 at Michigan, I can guarantee that it's way more than 8 people. I wholeheartedly believe that 20% number. The Dean of Admissions is not being honest with you.

    I advise any Michigan Law prospective students to think long and hard before attending. The career prospects are abysmal and Career Services is even worst if you can believe it. I'm $180,000 in debt with no job and no prospects.

    I would give anything to go back 4 years in time and not attend law school.

  88. I haven't met any of the 8 or the 20%. Everyone I know got locked in through OCI except a few people who scrambled on their own and got jobs with firms on their own. No school guarantees you job. If I hadn't come to law school I'd have been interning for no pay/working in a cafe. Now I'll be making 3-4x any kind of pay I could have gotten before. Not many three years spent doing something else can quadruple your salary. Law school is still totally worth it. Even with bleaker job prospects it's still worth it since it's not like the job market outside the legal profession is humming along. If you want to stay in your parents' basement and work for minimum wage, then don't come to law school.

  89. One wonders how many of those students were ones who didn't participate in OCI or pursue much in the way of job interviews while in law school. Schools with larger public interest scenes are more likely to face this problem. And it isn't an unusually bad thing. It means they are solely feeding the BigLaw machine. Getting non-profit jobs and government jobs can take more time. You have to go there and get in, which takes a few months. I know some PI people who are not just not particularly active in looking for work, but are extremely picky about where they are even willing to apply to work. I don't think the problem is the law school, it's that the people who come to law school think they are entitled to be Philosopher Kings, employable anywhere, with good hours and good pay, plus interesting work in the exact field they want. There were plenty of firms with open slots in their schedules at OCI, looking for Michigan grads. I interviewed with a couple of the smaller regional firms as backups. When you walk in the room, they pitch the firm to you, not the other way around. They were practically begging for people from UMichigan to work for them. But everyone was either rushing at Cravath and Davis Polk or just refused to condescend from their princely PI throne to actually come to OCI to look for a job, even a backup job. Students who didn't hustle then will have to hustle now. That's all.

  90. *aren't solely feeding the BigLaw maching ^

  91. I bet the 8 people that the law school is currently supporting are from the summer starter class of 2011. So the dean was being honest but misleading.

  92. I am Mich Law class of 2011. Another issue is the type of jobs people lucky enough to get jobs got. I work at a small firm and make $70k. I am happy to have a job, but a $70k salary doesn't justify spending so much on a law school education. Just because you are employed doesn't make law school a good decision.

  93. @9:19-- what city and state do you live in?

  94. I have advice for a college graduate looking for a career path: look at graduate schools and see which offer assistantships. If you are paid to attend graduate school, you stand a good chance of finding work in that field. If you have to pay, you stand a much poorer chance. Don't reject this advice simply because you majored in English and now find that some type of engineering is the best choice. Just plan on spending a year or two catching up. I know. I have a BA in journalism and ended up with a PhD in atmospheric science.

  95. "Have you talked to an engineer lately? They are about as fucked as lawyers. Nurses as well. Isn't that two of the categories in "STEM." I live in a major metropolitan area and both of those areas are flooded. Engineers and inexperienced nurses have it as bad or worse than lawyers. RESEARCH before spouting off."


    The difference between lawyers and those fields are significant.
    1) The difficulty getting into those fields is merely one of initial experience. Once you have experience, finding and keeping employment is relatively easy.

    2) The college education debt level is appropriate for the degree and the resulting income.

    Lawyers are more screwed because of those factors. It costs a crazy amount of money to become a lawyer. Even if you win the lottery and make Biglaw for a few years, odds are still extremely high you will wash out in a few years and be in shitlaw.

  96. I would kill for that $70K job right now. It's better than nothing.

    Michigan prospective students beware of some of these other "success" stories. Attending Michigan Law right now is a gamble. You have been warned.

  97. I also attended Michigan's admit weekend. I could not find a 3L without a job. Those of you from the class of 2011 - where did you stand in your class? What type of work were you looking for? Specific information like this will help prospective students like me WAY more than anecdotes from both sides (which is all we seem to get).

    Can either side help out here??


  99. FYI, I am an MLaw 2011 graduate who took the public interest spend. You have greatly misconstrued the nature of the stipend. It only counts as employment for statistics if you are employed on February 15, not any other point in time. Most people eligible for the stipend would have taken it in the fall, not December or later, and so do not affect the employment statistics one way or the other. Just thought that particular fact should be corrected.

  100. @ 7:26 PM

    I also knew a guy in law school who got so many D's that the school started proceedings to kick him out, but his father who is a big time lawyer from the baby boomer generation basically threatened the school so they let him graduate, his dad got him a job at the firm of a family friend and he got fired after a month for filing a baseless motion for sanctions on opposing counsel because he didn't read a court rule correctly, now he works for his father's firm. I graduated several years ago with honors and never found a job. I tell every kid that will listen that college is worthless if you're not already in the richie-rich network.

  101. A brother told me that there are currently a lot of openings in Michigan insurance jobs. I have licensed in insurance field, but can't seem to find good place to apply. Any advice?

  102. I see things have not changed at Michigan Law.

    20 years ago I graduated and could not find a job. Michigan was still claiming they had a "100%" placement rate. I told them I knew four people in my section alone who were unemployed so even if every other person in every other section was employed, which I highly doubt, the highest placement rate they could claim was 99%. The Placement Office administrator asked me what I had been doing, so I told her I was parking cars as a valet and doing odd jobs just to try to save up enough money to take the bar, and she said, "so you ARE employed".

    My advice to any young person who is not, as the previous poster said, in the "richie-rich network", is to get your education in the US, but then leave. There are far more opportunities in Asia and elsewhere to move up.

  103. I think what we should be asking ourselves as used-to-be naive TTT puppets is why this is happening in the U.S. only? Why is it that in virtually every other country except the U.S. and Australia, everyone can go to highschool and do an LL.B straight out of highschool? Why is it that only in the U.S. the tuition alone is destined to put graduates ankles shackled in a ball and chain (literally, as a 150k+ debt is obviously something 99.99999999999999% of any individual in the U.S. would manage to pay back), and virtually everywhere else in the world education is reasonably affordable, if not free? Why is it that neither the Government, law-schools, administrators and/or profs/alumni members do not speak on this or take action?

    At least some students are starting to take action by suing their law schools. And it is nice to see that ABA implemented some stringent provisions on law schools to indicate truthfull employment statistics. But what I think is absolutely crucial to correct this is to reform the entire legal education.

    I often ask myself: Why the fuck did I need my 4-year college degree in order to get into law school. It really aggrevates me that people in Europe for example go straight into law school without having to get a college degree (They obtain LL.B's, and at some occasions, depending on the EU Member state, don't even have to do an LL.M. Subsequently, they have to do a mandatory 2 year internship at a firm in order to qualify for the bar, and usually, stick with the firm at which they gained their practical experience after completing the bar, and then are pretty much ready to earn a decent living. Not a lavish lifestyle for most, but an honest, fulfilling life with a disposable income that can have you living comfortably. And with little to no debt!

    I know that the american legal educational system would never want to adopt such a system seeing as law students would skip the collegescam all in one go, which clearly would be unwanted in our sick educational industry.

    BTW! Have any of you heard of becoming a Lawyer in Cali and Ohio without even having to attend law school? I recently found out about it and it seems like some serious shit going down. Imagine this perfect situation: You're done with high-school. Your Parent, or possibly friends of your Parents, or even parents of your highschool friends are lawyers, or know lawyers very well. You do the 4 year apprentice at the lawyer's firm with even a possible salary attached to the deal by promising that after you finished the 4 years of apprenticeship you will work for their law firm for a determined amount of time. It seems to be a win-win deal as the company is investing in you in return for future employment of which they are confident with as they have taught you the ropes.

    This goes back to the whole idea of apprenticeship in any event, but this model of becoming a lawyer is even regulated by CA and OH and possibly some other states.

    It would help future law student to A: Avoid law school all together as it is a waste of time and a debt trap. B: avoid losing time which could have been better spent on learning the law and applying it at the same time. Chelp them to identify whether or not the legal profession is for them or not.

    It would give future students nothing to lose!

    I would be very interested in meeting some lawyers who chose this route of becoming a lawyer. It seems to be a very safe way.

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