Friday, March 16, 2012

They write letters

I learned that George Washington had posted its 2011 employment stats from a 3L, portions of whose letter I'm posting here with permission:

The most terrifying figure I'm seeing from this -- although they didn't break down percentages for 2011 -- is that in 2008, 66% of our grads went to firms. In 2011, 40% did. That's an enormous drop.

GW, by virtue of being high-quality and located in DC, had the opportunity to assuage this somewhat by shifting to government. But even then, the hiring freeze has clearly taken a toll. We jumped from 13% to 21% in government in 2010 -- and then back to 17% in 2011.

The jobs simply aren't there. I'm thrilled that we just released these numbers in the interest of transparency, but the real lesson I learned from the numbers is that the industry is bleeding jobs and our career services office simply can't keep up (if trying to distort market reality is even their responsibility in the first place). It is, in your own words, the classic "trap" situation.

Personally, I'm doing ok. I had done my research and knew exactly why I wanted to go to law school, and I've loved it. Then, I didn't go to the best school I got into, I went to the best school that gave me the most money. Because of my scholarship (thankfully endowed, not cross-subsidized), I'm nowhere near the full debt load of my peers. But my debtload is still a lot higher than I had budgeted coming into law school. I'm in the top 15% of my class, but in spite of many callbacks and dozens of other interviews I had no offers as a 2L. Iended up working, for free (see: budget crisis), for the federal government during the summer and school year. I impressed my office but even after 8 months they had no funding to guarantee me a paid position. I'd be starving right now and unable to even pay the bar exam fees if my well-salaried romantic partner wasn't currently subsidizing my existence.
 As a 3L, with the prospects of an offer from the government at nil, I did a massive direct write campaign to more than a hundred law firms,and called in every even tenuous connection I had. Miraculously, after many more interviews and callbacks, I got one single offer, in my desired practice area, from a firm. I'm incredibly thankful, but it was one of the most stressful experiences I've eve been through. Many of my friends at the top of my class are in a worse position; the bottom half is struggling even more. And we're still a top 20 school in a great location. My friends at top-30 but rural schools can't find anything. And once you fall below that, it's a bloodbath.
I'm a hard-working middle-class kid with parents who were hit hard by the economic crash. In an absolute emergency they might be able to bail me out, but it'd be tight. That's the main reason I didn't go to T-14 schools, even though I got in. The cost was prohibitive to a middle-class kid. Back during application season as a 0L, I visited one T-14, and literally started crying because I felt like I fit in perfectly but knew there was no way I or my family could afford the $180K price tag. The other students there either were having their parents pay the price tag in cash, or were utterly naive about how much money the education actually cost, and what the opportunities would be coming out. (To quote one: "Yeah, I figure the debt is the equivalent of buying a house. But any lawyer from this school should be able to afford two houses.")

I know I've gotten lucky. But many of my friends demographically identical to me have not been so fortunate. Something is fundamentally wrong with this system when even the smart, savvy, hard-working, middle-class kids who want to live the American Dream are priced out, from the beginning, of going to good schools. And even when they do go to those schools, they've been fed lies about jobs which don't exist. That's not the America I was raised to believe in.
 Lawyers basically do two things: work for law firms, and work for the government.  (Yes this is an oversimplification. Sometimes they manage the St. Louis Cardinals or run the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's a versatile degree!).   70% of GW's most recent class are supposedly in such positions, but when you start digging into the numbers a lot of rats scurry out of the dark (15% of this group have jobs with firms of 10 or fewer attorneys or are going solo, both of which are categories that include a lot of essentially imaginary employment, while "government" work has the charming characteristic of sometimes turning out to be completely unpaid, due to its exemption from many of the requirements of FLSA.)

Right now, firms aren't hiring much and government, in many places, isn't hiring period.  This was driven home to me yet again yesterday during a conversation with an unemployed 2011 grad of a school solidly within the top 20 (grades in the top 40%; tons of extra-curriculars; winning personality blah blah blah).  He pointed out that when calculating acceptable outcomes for graduates of expensive elite and sub-elite schools -- the HELP list -- I may have been a little too hasty to treat federal judicial clerkships as unambiguously "good" outcomes. He keeps in close touch with most of the federal clerks in his class and tells me that many of them have not been able to find any post-clerkship employment yet.  In particular he referenced a friend who has top 15% grades from this top fifteenish school, is Hispanic, female, conventionally attractive (unfortunately this as everyone knows is a factor in hiring), liked by everyone, and working for a judge who normally only hires from HYS, but who still can't get a job.  He spoke to a lawyer at the big firm in the building where he offices (he is self-employed and is receiving a small "fellowship" stipend from his alma mater) about this clerk -- networking! -- and the lawyer said this sounded like an ideal candidate and she would speak to the hiring partner immediately. She did but . . . the firm isn't hiring at all right now (this is a several-hundred attorney shop).

Yes anecdotes are not data but the data are terrible enough.

Speaking of which, I got an email this week from a stressed and depressed 1L at a "top tier" school where perhaps 40% of the grads are getting real legal jobs, liberally defined.  The student has middle of the class grades, is debt-financing law school, logs onto the internet occasionally, and therefore realizes that Houston we have a problem (a remarkable number of 1Ls remain innocent of this knowledge).  The student spoke about his/her concerns to one of his/her professors who assured the student "that there is no need to worry, because [  ] is a top tier law school. She/he also said that being an average B student is ok since we're all excellent, and that there will be jobs for us. (Somehow, this was not very comforting)."

Stupid or evil?  In this business both charity and experience continue to suggest the former remains the more likely explanation, at least for now.


  1. Anecdotes are not data, but in the fall of 2011, we did on campus interviews at our state school and only had 3 applicants, presumably because we practice in a less desirable part of the state.

    I think tuition and living expenses total around $20k/yr at our state college. Which tells me that it's the tuition, folks.

    If you want to work in a small practice doing 'people law' in your hometown, I think you can make it work.

    It's the tuition, folks, that is trapping these young lawyers.

  2. In the spirit of Gregg Smith's comment, I think this bears repeating.

    To pay off 150,000 in student loans in 10 years at 7%, you need to pay after taxes, approximately $20,899.53 [excel=(PMT(0.07/12,10*12,150000,,))*12]. You have to come up with that sum, uninterrupted, for ten years.

    Pay off over 20 years, approximately $13,955.38.[=(PMT(0.07/12,20*12,150000,,))*12]

    If you are paid 55,000, and take home 35,000, you have to live on 15,000-20,000 per year for 10-20 years.

    I'd rather be unemployed. Or flee to the desert.

    Math isn't broken. The tuition model is.

  3. Prior to the launching of this blog, the only "law blog" I read regularly was Volokh.  In the last year, I've become aware of several more, including Balkinization, Prawfsblog, and the Taxprof blog.  I thinks the Taxprof guy is a secret ally of our cause.  He never says anything, but he links to just about every scam-related story that comes down the pike and he helped publicize the existence of this blog when it first started.

    Volokh, Prawfs, and Balkinization, however, continue to shock me with their total lack of engagement in anything related to the legal job market.  They each had something (negative) to say about Campos when he first started this, but as the months have gone on, they've all been mostly silent.  At this moment, Volokh is featuring posts on "Rehabilitating Lochner" and "Seeking Advice on Teaching Evidence", two issues that will be of no concern whatsoever to their soon to be unemployed students.  Meanwhile, as recently noted in these comments, Prawfsblog is celebrating the release of the rankings and Pepperdine moving into the "top tier" at #49.  Balkinization is perhaps the most disappointing to me.  Brian Tamanaha is one of their contributors, but his concerns don't seem to have rubbed off on anybody else.  They are busy discussing "Is Constitutional Theory necessary?" (in two parts!)

    I would think that GW's 2011 stats would be a major story worth noticing.  How many of them will say absolutely nothing about it?  

    Campos began this blog by saying a number of not-so-nice things about law professors and they all cried and whined about it.  But in the last 8 months or so, they've basically proven his point.  They are clueless, they are in denial, and they just don't give a fuck.

  4. So most Americans who laugh at us will be crying 10, 15, 20 years later when the reasoning applied to law school suits filters down to them.

    You know it will. Right now, they'll say "but, but law students are different!"

    But when you really think about it, why should ANY consumer with a college degree fall for any misrepresentation or misleading claim? Everyone knows this occurs, so everyone should be expected to do due diligence.

    Heather Peters just won against Honda, now you know Honda lies, just google it. Don't come crying into court in the future: your remedy is to not have bought a Honda!

    And for those without a degree, there's always google.

    Our descendants, the lawyers of tomorrow will use this reasoning in defending their future corporate clients. All it will take is one successful suit importing this logic and other large corps will follow use the precedent.

    So let them laugh now, they'll be crying tomorrow.

    Anybody who today says that there's a way to contain the logic and keep the genie in the law school-lawsuit bottle is delusional and only agrees with the logic because it's used against a group they don't like. (It's also evident that they don't understand the value of a precedent.)

    It won't happen tomorrow, but it will happen.

  5. I feel like a zombie. I have the appearance of life, but I'm dead. I have no employment prospects and life goes on around me but I can't participate in it or enjoy it.

    Unless education is substantially reformed, we will "zombify" millions of future graduates. They will wonder around like zombies, confused, aimless and not dead, but not able to live fully either.

    I have seen the Walking Dead and it is us; is it any wonder that zombies are popular? Vampires are cool but they are active. Zombies are passive and don't have super powers, they just exist in a state of limbo and without much purpose.

  6. @6:20 who said: "If you want to work in a small practice doing 'people law' in your hometown, I think you can make it work."

    Not if your "hometown" is Boston and there's no state law school (not that that's a guarantee of low cost). MA is one of the few states without an accredited state law school.

    We do have a state law school now (didn't exist when I went to law school) but it's not yet accredited, I believe,and even if it were, it's reputation isn't known.

    The fact that it just opened is another problem altogether...

  7. I hate this letter and those like them…

    Here’s a quote from the letter:

    “I know I've gotten lucky. But many of my friends demographically identical to me have not been so fortunate. Something is fundamentally wrong with this system when even the smart, savvy, hard-working, middle-class kids who want to live the American Dream are priced out, from the beginning, of going to good schools.”

    ^what a dumb ass, he writes like he found out something new.

    No one is ever going to feel sorry or sympathize with the whole “appeal to middle class sentiments” that seems so prevalent. Middle class culture is rotten to its core. It fosters the individuality and “blind eyes to the lives of others outside of family” that is so destructive to society and its institutions. You have to create change starting from the bottom up.

  8. @ 6:58 "Volokh, Prawfs, and Balkinization, however, continue to shock me with their total lack of engagement in anything related to the legal job market."

    This pisses me off, too. I keep checking the Volokh Conspiracy for any discussion of the merits of the lawsuits and nothing is mentioned.

    Orin Kerr did a drive-by defense law schools in the comments section of an earlier post on this blog and he mentioned that he would address the issue in future post there.

    His defense was ludicrous and he gave up rather than engage the very reasonable criticism of his anemic defense (something along the lines of: maybe the schools really had the students' best interests in mind when they fudged the numbers because they wanted to convince potential employers that their students are being hired which would lead them to want to hire even more students. That's a rough paraphrase).

    Anyway, it would be refreshing to see some of "the best minds of [their] generation" engage in the issue. Lord knows they love the arcane and esoteric on that site, this topic, however, is a different matter altogether.

    Perhaps they see us as "angelheaded hipsters."

  9. But it is a versatile degree!

    After all, lawyers sometimes whip up lattes, dish out pizzas, serve alcohol, sell insurance policies, teach grade school, collect unemployment, work in doc review basements, intern for free at various agencies and non-profits, work as bouncers in nightclubs, etc.

  10. "I know I've gotten lucky. But many of my friends demographically identical to me have not been so fortunate. Something is fundamentally wrong with this system when even the smart, savvy, hard-working, middle-class kids who want to live the American Dream are priced out, from the beginning, of going to good schools.”

    lol @ "demographically lucky." You know you're poor when your family members are laughing at the fact that the "middle class" is complaining about how you've always lived.

    "In an absolute emergency they might be able to bail me out, but it'd be tight."

    Where I come from, you're rich if you can make a statement like that. My mother is disabled and on food stamps and other government benefits and she sacrificed and scraped to send me $200 so I can buy new glasses since I can't afford them on my own. I feel really bad but my eyes have been getting worse because I can't afford them on my own.

    Right now, I have $755 in bar dues that I have no way of paying. $755 for the privilege of practicing with no job prospects.

  11. I've honest to god never once been inspired by any teacher that I've ever had prior to reading this blog. Campos is a saint.

  12. "In an absolute emergency they might be able to bail me out, but it'd be tight."

    "Where I come from, you're rich if you can make a statement like that. My mother is disabled and on food stamps and other government benefits and she sacrificed and scraped to send me $200"



    I hate the clueless letter writer.

  13. @6:58 - Actually,...a return to Lochner would be really great for America. The Lochner decision was imvho one of the worst decisions in American jurisprudence. It is a foundation case. Do we want to be a free country or not -- that is the question? All this statism has caused the law school scam.

  14. "I'd be starving right now and unable to even pay the bar exam fees if my well-salaried romantic partner wasn't currently subsidizing my existence."

    Didn't Caligula force the nobility into prostitution? Maybe student debt will end up doing the same thing to over-educated youth from middle class backgrounds.

  15. This is a little bit off topic, but since you're talking about unpaid government jobs, and recently had that bit with NYU's employment data where they cited their LRAP program, NYU gives huge loan assistance to people working in full time public interest positions where a JD is required or preferred.

    ...But they have to be paid positions. With so many otherwise qualifying government jobs being unpaid, a lot of people who were counting on LRAP may be unable to get it.

    It's sort of rubbing salt in the wounds. If only you were poor, we'd help you. But, since you're completely flat broke - no such luck.

  16. Professor Campos,

    Do you think that we could devise a penalty severe enough on the schools to force them to reveal their true statistics?

    For example, suppose XY School of Law publishes questionable employment statistics in 2009, they would be subject to an audit of their raw data.

    If the data doesn't match what they have reported they would be penalized by $1 million for that year.

    This would trigger a review of the previous two years and the discovery of violations in those years would double the penalty for each preceding year in which the numbers don't match, so if they fudged in 2008, the penalty would be $2 million.

    If they were discovered to have engaged have engaged in the same practice in 2007, then it doubles again to $4 million.

    And it gets worse, if they have been found to be misleading for those three years the $4 million would then be multiplied by 3.

    Total fine would equal $12 million.

    The money would then be prorated and applied to the loans of the students who presumably relied on the misleading data: for example, I enrolled in 2007 but I looked at the data available in 2006.

    We could research when students are most likely to consider the data. My guess is it's usually the 1,2 or 3 years before enrollment.

    Anyway, do you think a refined scheme like this could work?

  17. @6:58 I have wondered about the lack of discussion of this topic. But I don't think the lack of discussion necessarily signals that people do not care. I don't wonder if some of it comes from the realization that (and I know the response this will provoke, but I'm going to say it anyway) we have been in a depression/recession since 2007. Of course graduates from lower tier schools have always struggled, and their story is one that should be told. The recession, however has hit everyone. The numbers at GW perfectly track the collapse in the American economy. Talking about this would not rewind the tape and tell GW (or the students who applied) what to have done in those earlier years before the magnitude of the problem was apparent.

    The legal profession is in a symbiotic relationship with American business. There are long term structural issues that will affect American business (and thus, American lawyers) in ways that go far beyond what is happening now. But right now, I suspect most people feel law schools do not control the economic forces that have pummeled every type of employee over the past 6 years. The forces take us in one direction, then another. That is why I think the focus on this year's stats and that year's stats, waiting with seeming glee to hear bad news, is a problem. Already, the indicators are going up, a spike in hiring of summer associates this past summer will, likely, produce better stats. As the economy struggles to its feet, business activity will increase and, again the numbers will improve for schools. I know that people on this site think we are Rome in last days, every generation likes to imagine itself as living in the most central times in history. These are not the most dire times the country has faced. If the upward trends (however slow and small) continue, the fixation on yearly stats will tell a different story, and the need for reform will appear less urgent. That would be a bad thing.

  18. @8:26 See the post above yours. We could focus on the stats and highlight the need for reform.

    If schools pay for their deception (even if it's just carelessness) we'd have reform almost immediately.

    At present,the schools aren't feeling any pain other than the growing ire of their students.

    Until there are financial sanctions, they will ignore the need to reform and spectacle of schools paying out millions of dollars will concentrate their finds on finding a solution and capture the attention of the public.

  19. what body has the coercive power to compel law schools to pay into the scheme referenced above at 8:20? don't get me wrong, i flat out love it. but do you think the aba would do that? hell no. do you think the government would do that? apart from a few congress members crying out in the wilderness, there has been no indication that this is a big deal to the government (yet-- wait til everyone starts defaulting).

    write your senator.

  20. Most of the examples that LawProf gives are of good students and very good schools. You don't hear much about the second tier graduates with middling grades. They are likely in as much debt as the elite graduates. Even in the best of times, there employment prospects were not great. There must be a ton of folks but they seem largely silent.

  21. I was responding to the post about the lack of discussion of this on other blogs. What will talking about this on Volokh for a few days do for the things you are talking about?

  22. 8:26/41 here. I was addressing 8:32

  23. true, 8:39. lawprof seems to make an a fortiori argument every chance he can so as to make it impossible for people to say, "well, they should have known better than to go to X. that won't happen to ME. i'm going to X school, which is a good school."

    goes without saying that heading to a t4 is bad, bad news if heading to the 23rd best school in the country gives you these kinds of prospects.

    see TLS- any time someone on that board makes a comment about the LS scam, it is immediately assumed that the the scammed individual wasn't savvy or smart enough to go to a good school. i actually think lawprof is filling in a major gap in the discussion.

  24. @8:39 I wrote that comment. Right now there is no body that can compel this. But I am just curious as to whether we can use a penalty system or would the schools figure a way around it?

    In theory, the ABA would do this, but as you point out they do not.

    I think that if enough schools are sued this could be part of the eventual's also possible that the ABA is brought into the suits as well. I would love the schools to attempt to sue them for allowing them to rely on their standards!

  25. As a 1L at Fordham I can confirm the innocence of my classmates to the job situation out there. I have yet to talk to one person aware of this blog who doesn't have the "don't worry, everything will be fine, we're at a great school" mindset.

  26. "What will talking about this on Volokh for a few days do for the things you are talking about?"

    I for one would like a debate of the pros and cons of the lawsuits. I mean most here are part of the converted. It would be nice to hear some honest arguments from those who are skeptical (prior to the lawsuits).

  27. Time will tell whether this is a structural or cyclical problem. If it is structural, then Campos and maybe 3 other law profs will stand on the right side of history.

  28. @ 9:01:

    I think you should:

    1) Get an email list of students (e.g., listserv).

    2) dummy a gmail account that identifies you as one of them (e.g., ConcernedFordham1L at gmail)

    3) introduce yourself in one sentence, and link to this site, perhaps to the site generally, and then to a specific favorite post (e.g., the road to serfdom)

    You'd be doing the right thing.

  29. Also, you could also start small, with just your section, and hope that it goes viral.

  30. To the Fordham 1L, I have become convinced that denial is one of the most powerful forces motivating human behavior. Those 1L's could save themselves by dropping out right now, but they won't. No amount of information is going to penetrate the denial for most people.

  31. Fordham 1L: Are your classmates aware that Fordham hired 70 2011 graduates into short-term positions so that they wouldn't be counted as completely unemployed in the USNWR and NALP stats? (That's 15% of the class).

    As to the cyclical v. structural issue, I think this is very much a side issue, which is of real practical concern to just the handful of schools that send significant numbers of their grads to big firms. Big firm hiring patterns may come back. But even in the golden age no more than 20% of ABA law school grads were getting such jobs. The problem now is that the vast majority of law schools have cost structures that make sense only if a large portion of their graduates were to go on to get six-figure jobs, at least for a few years after graduation. That's the fundamental structural problem and it has nothing to do with the business cycle. The only relevance of the business cycle and its effects on big firm hiring is that we don't know yet whether five years from now the cost structure of 180 law schools will make no sense, or whether it will "only" be 170.

  32. I agree with the comments about the letter writer. She has no idea what it is like to not have a romantic partner or a family to go home to. Or not to have worried about the stock market, because you have no savings or investments.

    I also don't know why she thinks the system is broken just because middle class kids are now having poor outcomes. What about the people who are trying to move up from other classes? I guess no one cared about them before, and no one is focusing on them now.

  33. @9:19

    It won't work. People believe what they want to believe until they no longer can.

    I graduated in 2010, I knew the recession was bad, I didn't know how bad it was until after graduation. (kind of like the bar, I asked a 3L how it was and he said, "aw man you have no idea, it's bad." I didn't realize just how unpleasant it was until I actually had to study for it even though I knew it wasn't fun.)

    I was also overly optimistic that I'd be out of work for say 9 months after graduation...well it's going on 24.

    As humans we can only tolerate so much cognitive dissonance so we create myths to cope.

    Those of us on the other side see things differently from those who aren't here yet.

    This is in part why some people cling further to their beliefs when confronted with opposing views; they respond by retreating further into their individual myths to minimize the dissonance. It's a basic coping strategy.

    A lot of egalitarian couples really aren't but they tell themselves they are, but when sociologists study them, the wife usually does the majority of the work at home and they just tell themselves they are "egalitarian."

    It's very hard to change implicit biases and ideas. Everyone (even minorities harbors implicit racial biases) yet most people insist they do not.

    The same principle applies here. If you go by the principle that changing one mind is enough, then you'll be successful, but on a one-to-one basis, just sending out that info won't have much of an effect.

    Still, it's better than doing nothing, I suppose.

  34. i pray we don't stop at 170. there's enough low-hanging fruit to get to 100, easy. but if that happens, wouldn't tuition stay high or even increase?

  35. Not everyone on TLS blames the students, but most of them do. People think if you went to a low tier school, then it is your own fault.
    They also don't want to hear how bad placement is at WUSTL or GWU. Not too long ago someone even posted assuming that hiring was back to normal. People really do think that the hiring rate for their classes is going to be much higher than the current state.

  36. Wow, I have to say the comments about the letter writer seem particularly overly sensitive. I thought the student did a fine job of pointing out that their position was better than others. If we get to the point we start bickering about whether this person is sensitive enough to other's plight, we'll be heading down the wrong road.
    Great analysis @9:35 LawProf, that is the whole point.

  37. 9:44 I think it's important that we are aware of our biases. If we ignore them, we are showing we only care about ourselves rather than the larger problem at hand.

    The letter can be read, as most politicians see the world now, that a problem isn't a problem until it affects the middle class.

    Those who aren't middle class would like their existence to be acknowledged. If you're not middle class, the letter could be seen as saying so long as people like me are taken care of I don't care about solving this issue.

  38. Following my practice of taking on schools that issue ill-founded statements: Forbes Magazine today quotes Columbia's Dean David Schizer as saying, "It's true that the elite bar is hiring fewer people. But is Columbia affected? No."

    Do the numbers back up this claim? Hardly.

    Columbia's own website shows that 84.1% of its 2009 grads entered law firms. The following year, just 76.1% did. A ten percent drop (those eight points from 84.1 to 76.1) is some "effect." Similarly, 91.3% of CLS's class of 2010 obtained law firm jobs during the summer after their second year. Only 75-77% of the classes of 2011 and 2012 obtained those jobs. I bet the students considered that some "effect."

    Could it be that Columbia students have stopped working only for the "non-elite" firms? I.e., could these drops represent grads who finally "wised up" and took government or public interest jobs instead of working for those tacky New Jersey law firms? I grew up in NJ so I'm allowed to say that.

    Nope. The NLJ list of associates at the 250 largest firms may have some problems (or not), but there's consistency in their method from year to year. For the classes of 2006, 2007, and 2008, Columbia placed 70-75% of its graduates in those largest firms. In 2009, the percentage dropped to 55%. 2010 held steady at that percentage, but the 2011 figure dropped to 52%.

    I suspect Columbia's graduates and students think that a drop from 75% at the NLJ 250 to 52% at those firms represents "some effect." (Again, the NLJ method may be flawed or perfect: the trend is there, and it also appears in Columbia's own online statistics--although those don't go back as far.)

  39. @10:06, yes, and if its and buts were beer and nuts, well, we'd have one heck of a party. I come from a lower middle class bkgrd (I guess, once my parents got divorced and my dad wasn't paying alimony, my mom's $8/hr job probably put us more in the lower class; c'est la vie) but I remain focused on the problem at hand. That not being the student's perhaps mild biases, but more on the profession and its job opportunities and the relentless explosion of higher ed costs.
    "If we ignore them, we are showing we only care about ourselves rather than the larger problem at hand." Seemed like the whole letter was expressing concern for others.
    Anyway I'm adding to the problem I said we should avoid.

  40. DJM: What astounds me about this sort of thing is I honestly can't understand what Schizer thinks he's doing. Is it even remotely possible that he believes what he's saying? Why in the world would anyone believe anything someone who says things like this says?

  41. All of this has very much to do with the business cycle, as most things in the world do. As the graduates on top get pushed out of jobs, it affects everything and everyone below.
    The cost structures of law schools are a problem. Changing that may knock some thousands of dollars off a degree that will still be expensive. That won't make new jobs. On that point, Law Prof, one of the proposals for structural reforms is to create a class of lower cost law schools that move away from the HYS model. Leave HYS to what they want to do, and allow other schools to chart a different course. I don't know if you have said explicitly what you think of this. I may have missed it.

  42. Lawprof/DJM: Try being a current student and having the administration blame you personally for not having a job. The Dean of OCS stood up at a meeting and declared that people in the c/o 2012 who didn't get jobs out of EIP were "weird." Admissions needs to be fired because apparently they've started admitting a hundred more people who can't interview than they did before the recession.

    They believe in this myth so much that they provide almost no GPA data for bidding at EIP. The reasoning is that CLS grads can place in any firm regardless of their grades They know that because of this some students will overbid and strike out. They are sacrificing these students to maintain the myth (largely an internal one) that CLS is on the same footing as HYS. It's a facade that everyone knows is false but they refuse to take it down. Meanwhile a median student should try bidding Cravath on down and see how far that gets them.

  43. LawProf: Absolutely. I fear how much this tendency has spread, not just among law professors and deans, but in our society generally. People seem willing to say whatever makes the sale or otherwise serves their interests, with little regard for truth. For a lawyer and academic, that's pretty scary.

  44. People criticizing the letter writer for his/her middle class “delusions” remind me of Tea Party union haters. Rather than ask, “why can’t we work to have a society where everyone has a fair shake”, they’d rather work to drag down anyone who is not currently as miserable as they are.

    The letter writer makes very clear that he/she feels very lucky to have a job and not fallen through the cracks. He/she is sympathetic to the fact that many similarly deserving peers are falling through the cracks. This is not enough awareness for you people?

    Does every discussion about a prevalent social problem have to devolve into a comparison between “first world problems” and Darfur refugees?

    If so, I call Darfur on 7:29 AM and company and ask that they stop talking about their particular thread distracting first world problem. Now can the rest of us go back talk about the problem actually raised by the post?

  45. @bored3L: HLS's OCS said similar things to 2011 grads.

  46. I read the letter from the 3L at GWU, sorry The GWU. If anything, it confirms that with a bit of hustle, hard work and networking, you too can land the job of your dreams. Luck has nothing to do with it. Let's face it, a JD is not an automatic ticket to the upper middle class life. You have to PAY YOUR DUES. Kids today want to skip PAYING THEIR DUES. They want a six figure salary, corner office, hot secretary, 5 or 7 series BMW and have a 9-5 schedule. Well, life doesn't imitate art (this is not Boston Legal or the Practice where you try, win a case and go out drinking with your colleagues to celebrate). You have to prove yourself to be a PRODUCER. If you don't like that pressure, then maybe you should have opted for a Masters in Social Work. I am tired of hearing kids say they got scammed by law school. You are not a babe in the woods. Even with your inflated GPAs and LSAT scores (that you obtained based on tutoring and prep courses, not on raw intellect), you should still be sophisticated enough to know that the man with the beard and tweed jacket aka your law school dean, is trying to sell you a bill of goods and will paint pretty pictures of you and unicorns, prancing in the gardens of Valhalla. Start taking responsibility and own your miscalculated efforts to take short cuts (i.e., law school) to the good life. If you think I am being too abrasive or that I am an asshole, get used to it because most attorneys feel the way I do about the current bumper crop of law students. We will not be your parents. We will not be your babysitters. You will be expected to work hard and PRODUCE. If you cannot produce, you are useless to use.

  47. @ 9:06-- What will a debate about the lawsuits achieve? The lawsuits will unfold as they unfold.

  48. 11:20, again--I understand that a debate might interesting, but aside from it's entertainment value, what would that achieve?

  49. Nothing 11:19 says has any impact as to whether we should try to change the Law School Scam.

  50. Amazing how a hard-working PRODUCER like 11:19 has so much time to surf the internet and write overly long comments.

  51. This is going to sound strange, perhaps, but I see talking about the shitty legal job market/crushing burden of debt as a moral obligation of every person who makes their living off this very system.  Campos has met the obligation (and then some), so has Tamanaha, DJM, and the Taxprof guy.  I'd even go so far as to include Leiter in this, as he has generally kept up with linking to stories about the lawsuits and employment stats.

    I don't agree with those people who try to say that Campos should quit, I don't think any law professors should quit their jobs because of this.  I don't think this is a problem that they created and I don't hold them morally responsible for creating it.  But the problem does exist, and they are the prime beneficiaries.  I'm no philosopher, but to me, this creates a moral imperative that they join the cause by speaking out.  Silence is not neutrality.  Silence identifies you as a perpetrator, as well as beneficiary of the scam. 

  52. 11:19,

    A lot of us pay our dues every month after graduation. In other words, shut up.

  53. I want to weigh in on the structural issue I think that the situation we are in is profoundly structural. It is a product of fantastic technological change both in the office/business environment and in the availability of the Internet to almost everyone, everywhere. Lawyers just are not needed in the ways that we once were. In my opinion, based on 50 years in the business, the trend line for jobs where a law degree is required, or even useful, is down for the foreseeable future.

  54. 11:54 -- is silence not talking about this on blogs? So, if every law professor were to post entries about this on blogs, they would no longer be perpetrators?

  55. Writing about it on blogs is not silence, no.

  56. And you know what's hard to swallow on top of everything else? That legal secretaries and such are being offered jobs that outpace the salary of most JD jobs:

  57. @12:30--I am sorry. I phrased that in a confusing way. Are you saying that anyone who is not writing blog posts about this is "silent" on the question and, therefore, a perpetrator? I know for a fact that there are professors who are working on some of the issues talked about here, and are discussing these issues with students and colleagues. Schools have changed their curricula to address complaints about the training of graduates. Why are those efforts, and others, less important than commenting on blogs? You are, as they say in my discipline, "privileging" your preferred form of conversation over others.

  58. If law professors are working behind the scenes to improve the situation, the. They deserve as much credit as anybody. But if they won't do so publicly, they risk being mistaken for one of the piece of shit do nothings, which admittedly may not matter much to them.

  59. @Law Prof--You raised the issue of the cost structure of law schools. I think your earliest posts addressed that question head on. Again, do you favor the creation of law schools that eschew the HYS model and deliver a lower cost legal degree to students? If you have answered this directly, and not just described the proposal, please cite the post. That's a concrete proposal that does not just rehash complaints about the past. Is that the way to go forward? That is something law schools can do something about.

  60. @12:53 That happens all the time. Most of the things that get done in the world get done by people whose names are never known.

  61. What I find also absurd is that it is at the “elite bar,” i.e., the BigLaw largest 100 and 250 firms that the biggest long-term problems for the profession are appearing first – and it may be in the smaller and mid-size boutique firms that the long term winners are found. To be absolutely blunt, when I exited law school 20 years ago first and second year associates at BigLaw spent their time doing things a semi-house-trained monkey could do. A bunch of them would spend nights at the printers (in a nice plush lounge with catering and a bar) while prospectuses were printed for bonds – checking that no one inadvertently fixed a typo; others engaged in pointless document review on deals where anything they found would be swept under the rug – and in litigation they reviewed reams of paper for little purpose.

    In the last 20 years even BigLaw has changed this – first by adding paralegals – then boiler rooms of contract attorneys at as cheap a price as possible – but to be blunt, outside specialized practices, the associates largely do repetitive dull tasks where they can be briefed on what to do in half an hour. And now automated review processes are killing that work too. That is why the whole targeting of BigLaw is a problem and it is also why First Year Associate hiring may not recover (that and the much stronger unwillingness of GCs to pay for first and second years.)

    By contrast what I am seeing is rising demand for experienced lawyers with sui generis skill sets. However, many of the BigLaw and Magic Circle firms have all but dicarded these departments because they did not offer the ability to leverage tens of associates per equity partner – and because the good associates vanish over the hill as soon as they can (and when they say they have the departments, the heavy hitters are all gone.) Thus for example Clifford Chance merged with Rogers & Wells – and within a year the entire R&W IP team had left –and the same happened at other big firms; ditto other specialized practices. Which leaves BigLaw with pretty fungible Corporate Transactions practices – where there is fairly little between the top firms in terms of impact on the deal (whatever the propaganda says the lawyers on these deals are usually picked by the investment bankers and they know the main thing is that the deal happens and the IBs get their bonuses.)


  62. Remember that LawProf emailed every accredited law school in the US and couldn't get even 1% of profs to sign a petition asking for transparency reform. LawProf is in a very small minority.

  63. @FOARP He did that after his opening gambit of saying that law professors did no work and were frauds who ripped off their students. He walked that back a bit, but it was never likely after that beginning that large numbers of people would want to be associated with a project done under his direction. You might say they would not have joined him even had he not started out that way, but that would appear an after the fact rationalization. We can never know that for sure. He wanted to get people's attention, and he did. That was the good part. But there are downsides. If you really want people on your side, (and the petition was a bid to do that) you don't begin by insulting them. That's not hard to understand.

  64. Yes, because apparently law professors should be approached with the same tactics one uses with a class of high school students, rather than simply expecting them like grown adults.

  65. As that how you approach grown adults that you want to join you in an enterprise, or convince them of the urgency of a problem-- by calling them lazy frauds? Does that work when you try it?

  66. @MacK - I hear you. When I speak to people working at magic circle firms it is as if they have come from a different planet. The exceedingly odious man who bragged to me that his firm only hired "Blues and blondes" being a prime example.

  67. The School of Law at University of California--Berkeley tuition is now $50,163 per year (in-state),

  68. Curiously enough, I expect people working in the legal profession (or any profession actually) to set aside petty personal feelings - wounded pride in particular.

  69. Oh, that simply does not work.. People who are effective leaders, persuaders, always keep their audience in mind. They know that being "right" is no excuse for not adopting the most effective means of getting people on board. If they are really serious about their mission, and have the right amount of discipline, they will sublimate the impulse to get off just the right insult or vent personal pique. A person who wants to change things has an equal (greater) responsibility to govern themselves for the sake of the larger goal. The goal, not their personal anger, is the important thing. Everyone knows that.
    But, in fairness to Law Prof, he may not have had a long term strategy in mind when he started. It was not the goal to peel off law profs who might be sympathetic. That is fine. The petition business came well off into the life of the blog But he is not the only game in town. I suspect that Brian Tamanaha's book will get lots of attention. He has been tough on the legal academy for longer than Law Prof. So it is not here (this blog) or nowhere. There are others.

  70. "govern himself or herself"

  71. 7:06 AM I want you to look at the insurance companies in your State..The in-house at those companies are overworked... Look at the insurance companies at the top.. I know one company who just hired a bunch of Attorneys.. The pay may not be near what your friends at Firms are getting ..BUT... These companies are generous and they give bonus' & raises each year...

  72. DJM: What astounds me about this sort of thing is I honestly can't understand what Schizer thinks he's doing. Is it even remotely possible that he believes what he's saying? Why in the world would anyone believe anything someone who says things like this says?

    I think there are a couple of variables at play here. I think he is clueless as to reality. I think he wants to protect the Columbia brand. I think that Columbia has always felt that students who don't get a job, don't get a job because of their own problems. They live in a world where just going to Columbia or being associated with Columbia should be enough to set you up for life. Keep in mind that tenured faculty there really do not have to interact with the real world, they have guaranteed housing for life, health and retirement plans. It is almost impossible to be fired from this job. Somehow, they believe that they are above it all and so students from their school should easily find jobs. This insufferable attitude permeates the campus, where I have spent a great deal of time.

  73. Judge Schweitzer's position, as represented in the paragraphs quoted from his opinion, imply that law schools have a perfect right to dupe any potential student who does not understand what a statistically significant sample is. This is interesting, particularly when one considers that law schools are especially attractive to students who do not understand such things. Perhaps the judge actually believes these students deserve harsh punishment for their ignorance of statistics. However, most law school applicants have not passed through the scientific curriculum that would teach them to disbelieve what law schools assert about hiring and average salaries. In fact, those who have passed through such a curriculum generally do more certain, more useful and more remunerative things with their lives than attending law school. That students apply to and attend law school is rather conclusive evidence of ignorance in this regard. And if such ignorance merits punishment, then their attendance at law school is merely proof that they merit it.

    Thus, law school applicants are the natural prey of law school administrators, who use applicants' ignorance in two ways: first to entice them through their ignorance into the trap that is law school, and then to defend themselves against claims of deception afterward through the argument that they have failed with regard to due diligence. In this remarkable way they simultaneously commit fraud and excuse themselves from it.

    When I was in practice this was the sort of argument that provoked the remark "That's an argument only a lawyer would accept."


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