Friday, August 3, 2012

Real people, real numbers

A student from a public law school contacted me recently.  He attends a tier-one school, which is also the best school in his state.  He has done relatively well in law school, ranking in the second quarter of the class.  And he would like to work as a prosecutor, public defender, or other government lawyer.  That's why he came to law school, and why he chose a public school with “low” tuition and a public service mission.

As he enters his third year, this student already owes more than $80,000 in law school loans.  By the time this student graduates next May, he will owe over $125,000.  How could that happen at a public law school?  Isn’t the “average debt load” for graduates of public law schools just $75,700?  Has this student been jetting off to Europe or stashing loan money in the Cayman Islands?

Hardly.  This student is living frugally, below the estimated cost of living for his school.  He also received the median scholarship from his school, so he’s not paying list-price tuition.  But he came to law school without savings or family support:  He worked part-time during college, and his family put in everything they had, just to get him through college debt-free.  The student assumed that attending his state’s flagship law school—with a scholarship—was a fiscally sound choice, and that it would be safe to borrow the necessary funds.

Here’s how the numbers add up.  I’m altering some facts and figures to disguise the particular school and student, but the outline and bottom-line numbers reflect this student's story.  It's a story, I suspect, that could come from many students at public law schools around the country:
  • First-year tuition (at discount), $18,500.
  • First-year living expenses for nine months, $16,000 (the school budget estimated $19,000). Note that this included $2,300 of mandatory health insurance and about $1,500 in books and supplies, leaving $12,200 for nine months of food, housing, and everything else.
  • Summer living expenses after first year, $4,000.
  • Second-year tuition, $20,705.  The school raised tuition 9%, but the scholarship was for a set dollar amount, so the student's effective tuition rose 11.9%.
  • Second-year living expenses, $16,000 for nine months (again, well under the estimated budget).
  • Summer living expenses after second year, $4,000.
That's $79,205 in expenses so far.  The killer, according to this student, is that it's so hard to earn money while in law school.  Of course, he wasn't allowed to work during his first year.  During his two summers, he had these options:
  • Work as a faculty research assistant, earning $8.75/hour.  As the student noted to me, a full summer of this work (40 hours a week for 12 weeks) would yield $4,200--even less after social security taxes.
  • Work for a prosecutor's office, public defender's office, legal aid, or other government office.  Most of these jobs pay nothing--they are volunteer positions.  But they are essential to land a post-JD job in one of these offices; students need the experience, connections, and "seniority" to get many of these positions.
  • Tutor high school and college students for $25/hour, one of the ways this student earned money in college.  This is more lucrative than working as a faculty RA, but it yields no law-related experience or connections (unless one of the kid's parents is a lawyer).  It's also hard to count on 40 hours/week.
  • Work for a small law firm for $15-20/hour.  These jobs would give some legal experience, although not in the area this student planned to work.  And it turned out that even these jobs were challenging to find.  This student opted not to look for this type of work, but many of his classmates searched for these positions and struck out.  It's an employer's market:  With fully licensed recent graduates working on an hourly basis for small and medium-sized firms, how many summer positions are left?  
What about those summer jobs at big law firms, paying $2,500/week?  The student laughed.  Maybe for the top 10% at this tier-one-but-not-T14 school, but not for the rest of the class.

Over the two summers, this student chose a combination of research for a professor, volunteering for a prosecutor's office, and tutoring.  He needed the volunteer position with the prosecutor's office to compete for a full-time job after graduation; the CSO told him that working for a faculty member was prestigious, would give him good legal experience, and would lock up a faculty reference; and the tutoring job was the best way to make ends meet.  Over the two summers combined, he cleared about $8,000 after taxes.

During his second year, the student thought about continuing the tutoring to bring in some more cash.  But he needed to keep the volunteer position in the prosecutor's office to preserve his career prospects.  He also wanted to maintain his position in the top half of the class academically, and his professors demanded regular class attendance.  A few faculty members advised him that it would be better to invest his time in studies and extracurricular activities, rather than in a part-time job unrelated to law, so he took their advice.  In addition to the volunteer position with the prosecutor's office, he devoted himself to classes, joined one of the school's secondary journals, and assumed a leadership position in a student organization. 

So during two years of law school, this student accumulated $71,205 in debt:  $79,205 in expenses minus the $8,000 of income.  He took out direct federal loans to cover his debt.  Interest starting accruing immediately on most of the debt, adding about $11,400 to the total.  Then there were the loan origination fees, although those were only 1/2 of 1% for this student's first two years.  After adding $356 for those fees, the student's debt reached $82,961 for two years of law school.  That total, again, is for two years as an in-state student at a public law school, with a median scholarship, living on significantly less than the school's budgeted cost of living, and with a mixture of part-time jobs, volunteer internships, dedication to classwork, and extracurricular activities.  

But this student still has a year to go--and the coming year will be even worse financially.  The school has raised tuition again, by 5%.  The scholarship dollars are still constant, so this student's effective tuition will go up another 6.4% to $22,040.  The student knows he won't be able to work a paying job next summer, while studying for the bar, and he will have to pay at least $1,500 for a bar prep course.  He will continue to keep living expenses down as much as possible during the school year, but he plans to borrow the full "cost of living" estimated by his school to tide him through the year and first part of next summer.  That amount is $19,500.

Meanwhile, as this student borrows money for his third year, interest will continue accruing on the loans from his first two years.  And his final year's loan will be more costly than the other two:  Congress eliminated the subsidy that previously shielded part of each loan from accruing immediate interest, and the government dramatically upped the origination fees for this year's loans:  The student will pay a 1% fee on the first $20,500 and a 4% fee on the rest.  Adding it all up, it looks like this student will owe $132,398 by the time he graduates in May.

The student is in despair.  How did he possibly accumulate this much debt at a public law school?  And how will he possibly repay it?  The student will try to work part-time for pay during his third year in order to borrow less, but there aren't a lot of options for lucrative part-time work.  Any work he does obtain, like the tutoring, might limit his volunteer work with the prosecutor's office, his class preparation, or further involvement with a journal or other extracurricular activities.

What about that average debt of $75,700 for graduates of public law schools?  It seems to be as misleading as the average salaries published by schools:  It's already two years out of date (loans have already been approved for the academic year that starts later this month); it includes underreporting from some schools; and it's an average that apparently masks considerable variation.  Students from upper-middle-class backgrounds may borrow modest amounts, while students with no family resources must borrow much more.

Public law schools were created, in part, to serve the latter group of students:  One of our missions is to allow students of modest means to become lawyers.  Another one of our goals is to support students who want to serve the public as prosecutors, public defenders, or other government officers.  But we're failing miserably at those aims.  Instead, we're saddling at least some of our students with a debt that is almost three times larger than our country's median family income ($45,800 in 2010).  We're not just destroying dreams; we're creating nightmares.


  1. This is so sad. I heard from a friend of mine today that her brother, a Southwestern Graduate, has been searching for a year and has not found work yet.

    This scam and travesty is beyond words. I thank god everyday that I decided against law school - for those not as lucky, I truly hope you find a way to make your life work in the long run. These odds and circumstances for the vast amount of law students is unacceptable and just anger / sadness inducing

  2. It's the conservative shift this country has undergone since Reagan. Quit funding public education. Villify lawyers and eliminate their jobs (tort reform). Money is kept in the hands of the wealthy. Everyone else is screwed. Either start working for third party change in this country or move to a country where the society cares for each other. Those are your two options.

    1. Sorry kid, us lawyers did enough stupid shit to vilify ourselves. Blaming Reagan (under whose presidency legal employment exploded, btw) rings even hollower than O'Bama still blaming Bush.

  3. Once again, my decision to drop out from a top 20 school (public), despite my scholarship and top quarter grades looks like the right one. I have 40k in loans from one year. Looking at what it would cost to graduate, I said no way.

  4. Wowza. 135K. That interest is bullcrap.

    Anan at 7:40 blames Reagan and conservatives, but public school spending has gone way up and results have flatlined and we have lost ground versus many other first-world nations.

    Meanwhile the government, through its lending policies, have allowed "non-profit" colleges and professional schools to increase their tuition far, far above inflation.

    One year of Harvard in the 70's was 1/12 of the median income. Now it is over 100% of the median income.

  5. The crazy thing is he is so not alone. I recall working in that PD office and wanting to go and serve the public too. I graduated and realized I needed to earn real money to save myself and that the public can wait. This guys future is not over, but I'm not going to lie to the kid, his life will change come graduation--there will be some good months and not so good months as he works himself out of that debt hole.

  6. This is exactly me - with a few differences. I was married and my wife's public school teaching salary covered our living expenses. So knock 52k off of 125k = down to 73k. And I have a tech background so I could get IP positions each summer and was able to bank 15k each summer = down to 43k. But 3L spring our car died and we had a baby so we needed something dependable so I dipped into savings and winded up consolidating around 53k total. I consider myself lucky.

    That was in 2005 at a public top 20. Im sure I had classmates who were this guy, and it's probably much worse now.

  7. If he didn't even look for small law firm work and chose to work for FREE, that's on him. Sometimes you gotta suck it up and work a job doing something you don't want to. My whole 2L year I worked in a small 4 attorney personal injury and family law firm for 15 dollars an hour 20 hours a week. I didn't want to do it. That year was one of the worst years of my life juggling work, class, and applying for summer positions. But you know what IT PAID and WAS LEGAL WORK.
    This upcoming fall of my 3L year I will be working for the small law firm I worked for this past summer, this time a real estate firm. I have no interest in what we do. BUT YOU KNOW WHAT THEY PAY ME 20 dollars an HOUR and give me further LEGAL WORK and Experience.
    If he couldn't find a law clerk job at a small law firm that paid that's one thing, but not even looking for paying work because it's not in the 'area' you want is beyond idiot in this legal market.

  8. I know someone who went to top 20 medical school looking to be a cardio-vascular surgeon. He had fantastic MCATs and a fantastic GPA from an Ivy league undergrad. The medical brochure of this top 20 medical school claimed 99% match rate in the top three specialty choice of the student. My friend knew that he wanted a cardio-vascular residency, so he structured his 3d and 4th year rotations toward that end, while also conducting research at the leading cardio-vascular hospital in the region. He maintained decent grades during med school; not top 10% or anything, but not at the back end of the class, and as everyone knows, there is the 99% placement rate, all doctors get jobs, etc. etc.

    However, during his 4th year, he learned that the placement rates for residencies were actually more like 45-50%, and he had to consider not getting not only his top choice of cardio-vascular surgery for residency, and not his top 3 choices, but *any* choice.

    My friend ended up matching not in a cardio-vascular residency, but in GI. He spent the next four years observing and diagnosing GI problems in elderly patients. In an unranked hospital in a small city/large town in the midwest, instead of the top 10 hospital in the large city in the Northeast as he expected when he was sending in his match.

    When my friend graduated his residency, earning significantly less and from a less prestigious hospital than he had hoped, he discovered that there were no permanent GI positions at any hospital either in the Northeast, where he had hoped to return after his residency, or in the midwest region where he completed his residency.

    He was faced with the choice between either opening up his own GI practice, for which he had no passion or interest, or accepting a job at a small town hospital/clinic for general internal medicine.


    I don't know if this happens in medicine. But, if you heard this story, you would think it was FREAKING RIDICULOUS that a doctor couldn't get a job in something remotely related to the practice for which he went to medical school. Medical school does not tell and society does not expect a student who goes to medical school , if he has an idea of what he wants to practice, to practice something else. Even more so, we do not expect a doctor trained in a specific specialty, after graduating residency, to just pick up and practice "shit medicine" or join Doctors without Borders because there aren't jobs in the practice field he had just spent 8 years training in.

    So, 8:15, the guy didn't want to practice in a small law firm. He wanted PI work or AD work. He was told it would be there. That's what he studied. This profession is so INEFFICIENT and SUCH A SCAM that someone like this can't get that type of job. Moreover, we expect someone who has devoted 3 years to study and prepping to be a criminal prosecutor to hey, just start practicing personal injury plaintiffs work.

    The goddamn profession makes no sense.

  9. 8:15, I think you're missing a few points about this student's position. First, if you want to get a job as a prosecutor or public defender, you *have* to work for one of those offices during law school. So when the student said that the hourly jobs at small firms weren't in his "area," he meant that he needed the prosecutor/public defender experience (even though it didn't pay) to get a government job later.

    Second, the student did work for pay--and actually earned more per hour than you did. He combined his paid tutoring work with the volunteer prosecutor position to get a combination of pay and legal experience, just as you did.

    Finally, although it's true that this student (and others) don't have to become prosecutors or public defenders, we do need lawyers to fill those roles. And that's supposed to be one of the purposes of public law schools, to make it more affordable to work for the government.

    This student's salvation may be the 10-year-loan-forgiveness plan if he does manage to get a government job. But that's no bed of roses either. More on that in an upcoming post.

    I am glad to have additional confirmation that these small-firm jobs pay only $15-20/hour. That's what the student told me but, since he didn't get one of these jobs, it's good to confirm.

    1. I'm shocked the pay would be that high. Small firms are struggling. Law students are fairly useless to be honest. I would never pay that much. I've had recent grads beg me to hire them at $10/hour so why pay a law student twice that?

  10. 8:35, you want something that will really make your head explode? I once sat down with an attorney friend for lunch to talk about job search strategies. During that conversation, he told me both that my judicial internship experience was not good experience unless I was prepping to be an appellate litigator (and I'm not) AND (in the same conversation) that there is no such thing as a "bad legal job" for getting experience to break into my preferred field. Try not to read that too many times; it won't make sense the more you stare at it.

  11. The student did everything right--T1, volunteering w/ the AG's office, journal (useless as it is) to polish his resume, decent class rank. And he still might not get the public sector job he desires.

    He mentions wanting to be a PD. As recently as the 90s, public defender jobs were almost consolation prizes. Now they are extremely desirable due to loan forgiveness, relative job security, and public sector benefits--including the prospect of an actual honest-to-god pension at the end.

    However, job openings are also extremely rare. Turnover is minimal, as lawyers now cling to these jobs with a death grip. And public sector austerity, especially at the county level, but at the state level too, means that hiring freezes are the norm.

    $135K debt is no picnic, even with the prospect of loan forgiveness 10 years out. But 135K + accruing interest and no job is the possible fate of this kid, and the likely fate of similarly situated kids from lower ranked schools.


    1. These jobs are political and you need connections anymore. They also burn you out pretty quick.

  12. 8:15, assuming you're not a complete troll (rather than a sincere one), please come back in a year or two when you're still working for peanuts in shitlaw (if you're working at all) and tell us all about how much that hard-earned "EXPERIENCE" is paying off.


  13. Just signed up to do almuni interviewing for my law school (in Chicago). Have been completely out of the loop with what is going on there at school, but I jumped on this. If I get inteviews (they try to match expressed student interest with alumni career path), I'm prepared to try and dissuade people. I also made sure that I'm a contact for students wanting to talk to a practioner.

    I work in a non-profit and the competition is brutal for positions here. Our hiring for the past few years has been minimal. We had a few fellows/VISTAs that got permanent positions. On attorney that did get hired was laid off after less than a year with us (as were quite a few experienced managing attorneys). We were completely overrun by law students this summer (who were mostly great) that were volunteers all desparately seeking to get an 'in'. It is brutal and depressing to hear them stressing out - and staff is stressed too. We had a round of layoffs and there could be more next year.

  14. In May, my alma mater contacted me and offered to place 3 law students with my office at no cost to me. The school offered to pick up the tab. The problem is I had no room for these students and I could not saddle my staff (i.e., paralegals and legal secretaries) with babysitting duties. There are just too many law students and legal positions are scarce.

    The student referenced in this post must be a moron. Public defender and prosecutor jobs are being scaled back. Google "hiring freeze" and "public defender/prosecutor" There are at least several dozen states and counties that are not hiring any more fresh blood. People are not leaving these jobs. Yet the march of the lemmings continues.

  15. not that it really matters, but i went to NALP directory and looked up Skadden in NY, clicked the compensation tab, then the Summer Associations section. Summer pay was $3,100 not $2,500.

  16. We're not just destroying dreams; we're creating nightmares....and destroying families.

  17. Amen, DJM.

    Excellent post, but sad. It's funny that you mention that one of the purposes of law school is to assist those that want to work in public interest work so that they can serve the public.

    I just graduated from law school about 2 years ago. Only reason I went was to go into public interest. Had absolutely NO INTEREST in doing anything else but serve the public. Then I learned that there were no jobs in public interest. Then I learned that I was expected to work for free in a never-ending parade of unpaid internships after graduating. Didn't have the money for those. Then I watched while my student loans increase exhorbitantly in interest while I was expected to give my services for free. Public interest - who can afford to work in that field? Isn't that for trust fund kids? Those positions don't really go to real people like me.

    Along the way I realized that the legal profession wasn't really about helping the poor but was about protecting the rich. I realized that no realistic person can expect to work in public interest unless they have extremely wealthy parents who can subsidize them for years to do unpaid internships.

    Hard to believe that 2 years ago I was a hopeful graduate who hoped to use her skills to serve low-income populations. In that time, I have become 'of the low-income population' myself and know that my dream of becoming a public interest attorney is about as possible to realize as becoming a famous film actress. That's okay - I've accepted that the dream is dead. Today, I am broke, severly underemployed and doing my best to get out of the legal field, since that is what caused me to be broke. Hard to believe I ever thought there was something like public interest. Hard to believe that 2 years ago, I actually wanted to work in the legal field and thought I was going to. Amazing the changes 2 years can cause.

    Hard to believe.

  18. @ dybbuk / AUGUST 3, 2012 9:05 PM,

    can we stop with the "did everything right" phrase? he matriculated into law school when the market was collapsing and red flags were everywhere. he attended a non-T14, and even if he did attend a T14, it still would depend on his relative performance. i feel sorry for the guy, and there were lots of landmines on his path, but there was substantial warning from the deferrals, to the bailouts, etc.

  19. "We're not just destroying dreams; we're creating nightmares....and destroying families."

    Yes, Student Loan Debt harms the American Family.

    It is a deterrent to marriage, and it causes much suffering not only for the debtor, but the family and loved ones of the debtor.

    No one wants to see a child strapped in usurious debt for life.

    So by extension, the law school scam is harming the American Family.

  20. The kid spent $20K per year in living expenses. I didn't even spend that much per year when I was working, Jesus.

  21. "The student is in despair. How did he possibly accumulate this much debt at a public law school?"

    Umm...seems pretty clear how he accumulated it, and there was no reason for him not to see it after 1L.

  22. A few weeks ago I received, from HR, three resumes for temp "paralegal" work at my non-law firm job. Really just admin work with a small potential of getting full time non-legal work. All applicants were 2011 law grads: one Albany Law, one Brooklyn Law, and one NYU law. At first, I thought it was NYLS, but upon inspection it was indeed NYU.

    Abandon all hope ye who enter law school.

  23. There should be a good reasonably priced law school in every state that wants one, to allow those who want to be lawyers for clients who cannot pay huge amounts to have a career with out being saddled with heavy debt. The American system relies upon having lawyers to defend people accused of committing crimes and lawyers who represent the state (the people) in prosecuting criminals. Doing other types of public interest work is important as well. The lack of funding of public institutions grows out of political choices that could be influenced by the public if they voted for candidates who understood the need to support public institutions. But, not enough people vote for those kinds of candidates--as a matter of fact, they do the opposite-- and here we are. This is a political problem that could be solved.

    That said, I am puzzled by people who want to go into fields without doing any research about those fields and how they are doing in the current climate. This is not an argument about information that the school is providing. But, just in general. Since 2008, the headlines have been screaming daily about the terrible state of the economy and jobs overall. Story after story about freezes and layoffs in the public sector, dire job creation reports. How can anyone be surprised if they are having difficulty getting jobs these days? It ranges from "more difficult" to "near impossible" for every person graduating from almost any type of school.

  24. No 11:10, what's hard to believe is that anyone would start law school so completely ignorant of the facts in their chosen specialty.

    Look no farther than your mirror for the blameworthy.

  25. Thanks DJM for the hard work on a great post.

  26. You know a few colleagues an I were kicking around the subject of hourly rates and we started to discuss what the effective hourly rate for a law professor is - and we guessed it was at least the same as the most expensive law firm partners - say $800-1000 ( and by the way, overheads are pretty high for law firms (there are non-billable employees, expensive office space, etc.) We were wrong!

    I ran the math on George Washington

    Cost per semester hour $1608.50

    Side of a 1L section at GW is 100 - so revenue per semester hour = $160,850

    Length of a semester is 15 weeks (classes) so per hour taught = $10,723.33

    Now there are 1L sections, so we are talking 4 credit courses but with a pretty fixed set of materials so limited prep. I have not seen the professors give up more than 2 hours a day for student office hours and that is split between their courses. So lets say there is a 1:1 outside classroom ratio to in class ratio (so a professor teaching say Contracts is devoting 4 hours a week to prep and talking to students for contracts and maybe another 6 for another course)

    That is an hourly rate of $5,361.66

    If I was more generous and set the ratio at 1:2 - that is the professor devotes 12 hours a week to the contracts course alone

    $3,574.44 per hour

    And if I put it an unlikely 1:3 (i.e., 16 hours for a single 1L course)

    $2,680.83 per hour

    Now in-state public law school tuition runs about 2/3 of a law school like GW so you are looking at a price per hour of professor work of between $3,600 to $1,800 but that is still 2 to 4 times as much as a senior partner in a top firm would usually run.

    To look at it another way each hour of face-time instruction from your law professor is costing you, for attention in a 1L section divided 100 ways more than $110 - top tickets to music venues can be had for that sort of money!

    Moreover, in most law schools 2L and 3L classes are also often large - 30-50 students.

    Now here is an interesting point, in DC seminars and specialised courses are often taught by adjuncts who get an honorarium of I think $10k a year (I was approached a few years back, so it may have gone up), which for GW means that the numbers are for a 30 student 2 credit section $96,500 in gross revenue - less $10,000 honorarium = $86,500 while allowing that there would be 3 hours prep per teaching hour I would make an hourly rate of $160 - not awful, but a small fraction of my actual rate or even what my draw is after expenses.

    By the standards of lawyers - even say BigLaw partners what law schools are doing is obscene overcharging.

  27. Here is the formula for extracting hourly rate from the price per semester hour

    1:1 out of classroom time
    (((Price per semester hour) x (class size)) ÷ 2) ÷ 15 = hourly rate

    1:2 out of classroom time
    (((Price per semester hour) x (class size)) ÷ 3) ÷ 15 = hourly rate

    1:3 out of classroom time
    (((Price per semester hour) x (class size)) ÷ 3) ÷ 15 = hourly rate

    Why don't people fling up hourly rates for a bunch of law-schools and while they are at it see if they can put up local hourly senior partner to associate rates for comparison.

  28. Oh, yeah, all that ( ^ ) makes sense...

  29. 7:19, here. Sorry, that was a snarky way to put it. I don't think calling something a formula and plugging in numbers makes it real and concrete.

  30. @MacK - Interesting demonstration. You would also need to take grading exams into account. From what I hear, that's the most time-consuming thing law profs do in courses with issue-spotting exams.

  31. @MacK - You also need to factor in the time researching and writing articles. Regardless of its value or lack thereof it's still a component of their job.

  32. College is so expensive now. Law school follows suit. It is a general problem of universities not trying to keep costs down enough. If you go to school in a high cost area, it is worse -even more expensive. One thing the government requires is that dorms financed with tax free financing cannot be rented to non-students for the summer. Smart too have them empty - the schools can just raise tuition even more. There are all sorts of quirks like the dean of the law school having a chief of staff who is a law school graduate is now the norm at some schools. No incentive for the law schools to cut back. Why should they? No skin off their backs.

  33. "We're not just destroying dreams; we're creating nightmares."

    Upton Sinclair has nothing on Prof. Campos.

  34. Some of the medical specialties have jobs in locations other than where the graduate would like to be. That being said, one can get a job as doctor, and the job is high paying. As a primary care doctor, there will be more opportunities to work.

    Nothing like law, where so many people are facing unemployment and no jobs no matter where they go.

  35. For an MD matching into a competitive specialty is hard. They look at everything from college and med school performance to MCLE exam scores. No one is guaranteed a competitive specialty from any med school. Crazy to think otherwise. The matching statistics for the more competitive specialties are around 50% and of course people pre-screen themselves before applying.

  36. 7:19 again. Although you would not take these things seriously, you also have to plug in time spent on committees, writing recommendations for students and other colleagues (tenure review at the home institution and for others) working on books/articles, reading colleagues' books and articles, attending school events-- judging moot court competitions and other student related activities. Of course there is controversy about the role of scholarship in the legal academy, but a "formula" that supposedly takes account of the professor's time has to include all the items that are part of the job as it exists today. You can't say, I'm going to leave out administrative stuff, or scholarship because I don't think those things are very important. You could establish a baseline of what people are doing now, and then do a critique of the items that go into it. But that's different from the initial determination of what the job as it exists today entails. Not all law professors do the job the way they are supposed to do it. They are not generous with their time. They don't participate in school functions, or read and comment on other colleague's work; and when I say colleague, I don't just mean people at the school. Slackers can be found in every field.

    There's no way to get at this without an in-depth look at each institution. I would bet--I know- that there are variations in the type and amount of work done at various institutions. The kind of shorthand formulations you are doing here are designed to reach a pre-ordained a result that supposedly covers all of the legal academy.

  37. A couple more points.

    I worked through my second and third years of law school, which made me an odd duck at my law school. From what I could tell the other students who worked were the significantly older students who came to law school after other professional success. I also had an acquaintance with a highly sought after biosciences Ph.D who took an offer from his boutique IP firm to work for them part-time at half-salary. He ended up making about 35K during his final year of law school.

    For obvious reasons, I did not fit into either of those two categories. So I ended up applying for $15/hr jobs. A couple of these jobs were with authors who needed legal research to help with books. I worked for the school as an RA and even did a cite-checking project for the ABA, as well as a couple of odd research type jobs for firms. Because the opportunities for steady paid work were not there, I was always hustling to pick up different jobs. Additionally, I worked during the bar exam and am working before my FT job starts, while everyone else is on a bar trip.

    A couple of additions to DJM's great post:

    I interned for the State AG office. At that time I was doing contract writing for a small PI firm that paid me about $33/hr for 5 hrs of work per week- way more than I was being paid at any other job. I was also working for $12/hr as an RA. I was specifically told by the head of HR at the state agency that I would need to quit my job for the firm because of potential, not identified, conflicts. If other AG or DA offices follow the same rule, I can see how someone wishing to become a prosecutor would have to choose between the immediate, certain prospect of lessening debt or a potential chance (only a chance) at making the connections necessary to get the job of their dreams.

    ABA 20-hour work rule: can be found here, on page 163

    Basically, you can't work more than 20 hours per week while enrolled full-time. This is a stupid, stupid rule. It's even stupider if it's actually been enforced to deny someone C+F or good standing. Trying to comply with this rule not only leaves students with more debt but also makes them miss out on opportunities 2L and 3L to try to line up full-time work by working for a small firm or solo. If a student is otherwise attending classes and in good standing (and at schools where the curve is a B this isn't exactly very difficult to do) why is it any business of the law school's whether they choose to drink 40 hours per week or work 40 hours per week?

    The Law Student Section petitioned to change the rule, but obviously that will not go anywhere.

    3) Wexis scamming is all too common. Small firms and solos would actually rather hire law students than recent grads, because the access to free WL or Lexis passwords is worth much more than the benefit of either the student or grad's labor. This puts the student in an uncomfortable position, as use of the free Wexis accounts for private firm work during law school violates the terms of service.

  38. @ AUGUST 4, 2012 7:46 AM

    it was posted by DJM, not Campos

  39. Not so relevamt to this post but is mind boggling that the ABA has the decision of whether to accredit foreign law school. Each law school class is taking on $5 billion of taxpayer funded debt. A lot of this cannot be repaid by lawyers who are unemployed or underemployed. To accredit hundreds of foreign law school will drastically worsen this situation. Taxpayers will be on the hook for billions that cannot be paid back by U.S. students whose jobs are taken by foreigners. Comments in the Wall Street Journal asked how foreign law schools could not be accredited in the U.S. Well, how does the U.S. set up immigration quotas and why. U.S. law schools are already producing many times the number of lawyers as there are jobs. Here there is such an oversupply of lawyers, so much hardship from legal unemployment and underemployment, so much debt of lawyers that cannot be repaid, there is really not a good argument for accrediting foreign law schools.

  40. Why would you work part time when you are paying $45k a year? How much of a dent would one put in their student loan debt? Working is just making the student feel like they are doing something. In reality it would probably be more beneficial to take as many courses during the summer as possible before the school raises it's tuition rate.

    Penny wise pound foolish...

  41. Do all schools have summer courses?

  42. My school offers no summer law courses.

  43. 9:58 am should be posted on a boomer dad picture.

  44. "No 11:10, what's hard to believe is that anyone would start law school so completely ignorant of the facts in their chosen specialty.

    Look no farther than your mirror for the blameworthy."


    11:10 here. Your comments are disturbing on a couple of levels:

    1) Your comment states that getting an education - the process of sacrificing years while not getting paid, putting off instant gratification, and investing in learning skills to be more marketable in the workforce - is something that people should be blamed for and considered stupid. It used to be people who committed crimes, didn't work, or who used drugs were losers. Now, people who get an education fall into that category too!

    2) You missed the point of DJM's post: Extremely high tuition at law schools run contrary to their stated goal of providing access to the legal field for lower income individuals. When you say someone has only himself or herself to blame for making the decision to go to law school and being in financial trouble, you are not acknowledging the impact his or her financial background may have on the situation. You mock me because I was poor and made the decision to go to law school, yet if I had unlimited means to do years of unpaid internships, my decision would have been OK in your book. I guess in your book it's one's financial status - and only that - that determines whether one should go to law school. The poor have no business going.

    3) You imply someone is stupid for wanting to go to law school and do public interest law. Again, stupidity used to be reserved for those who committed crimes, etc. Now, if you want to help people through public interest work but happen not to be rich enough to get the education to do so, you're stupid too. Of course, you don't address in your post how extremely high tuition affects all of this. That's not the problem, is it? It's that poor people who want to help others through public interest work have no business going to law school.

    Most disturbing of all is not what you believe, but what it says about the future when others share your beliefs: a future where no one is skilled because it's a stupid idea to invest in learning skills unless you come from a wealthy background. A future where only the rich have access to our legal system. A future where one's economic status is more important than one's determination and willingness to work. Those that have the first are accoladed, while those that have the second are derided because they shouldn't have gone to law school because they were not rich.

    How sad.

  45. At least at my law school, summer courses cost *more* than academic-year courses. I suspect this is true at other law schools as well; it stems from the way part-time credits are priced. And, unless you graduate early, the summer credits are unlikely to reduce the overall tuition bill: Most schools, I think, charge a flat rate for all credits over half-time so you won't save money by light-loading in later semesters.

    And it is hard to accumulate enough summer credits to graduate early. In addition to the credit hours (which are tougher to rack up in the compressed summer months), you have to worry about the "residency requirement," another rule that the ABA and law schools have used to keep students in the building longer. In general, that rule means that students have to take (and pay for) courses during two separate summers in order to graduate one semester early. The tuition paid over two summers almost certainly will match the tuition that would have been paid in a final spring semester.

    Some students take summer courses because it allows them to get additional loans for summer living expenses. Under federal loan rules, you can get those expenses while in school--but not during the summer months. But if the school charges more per credit for the summer courses, and the student doesn't graduate early, this tactic will really push up the debtload.

    There are so many subparts to this scam that it's hard to keep them all straight.

  46. I think MacK has an interesting idea for comparing law school tuition to hourly billing rates. It's an idea that I might want to refine and explore at greater length in an OP, but here are some of the points that occur to me off the bat:

    1. The administrative work that law professors do is part of the overhead, so MacK is right to leave that out of an hourly billing calculation. Remember that lawyers work many more hours per week than they bill. If you bill 40 hours a week and work another 10 on firm administration, you have to make your hourly rate high enough to cover your 50-hour work week, but you still bill the client for 40 (not 50) hours.

    2. The same argument could be made about the professors' scholarship--that it's part of the overhead, not the billed time. E.g., practicing lawyers do things to enhance their knowledge (read up on recent changes to the law) and heighten their law firm's prestige (speak to bar association groups, tweet about recent developments) that don't get billed on an hourly basis to clients. Instead, the hourly rate incorporates the increased value that those other activities provide.

    If we look at law profs' scholarship as an activity that improves teaching (because we know more) and enhances firm value (because the scholarship increases US News ranking), then this time is analogous to that unbilled but "value enhancing" time in private law firms.

    I know, I know, the scholarship almost certainly *doesn't* create that much value or even prestige enhancement. But that may be precisely why MacK's analogy is useful: It is another way of shedding light on the economics of legal education. Thanks, MacK, I want to think about this more.

  47. @7:27 & 7:40

    With respect to grading exams - I recall professors on Prawfsblog complaining that it took them 50 hours - allocating one hour that over a 4 credit 15 week course it amounts 60 hours - so it is built in at a 2:1 or 3:1 ration

    Why should I make provision for writing papers - that's overhead - it is rolled into a lawyer's hourly rate, it should be rolled into a law professors - and boy is there room for a lot of overhead!

  48. My typos are impressive - I need to stop switching keyboards so much

  49. Mack,

    Could you go into a bit more detail about your accomplishments, how universities are clamoring to get you on their payroll, how you get paid such a great hourly rate (even AFTER expenses and taxes--huzzah!), and also the fact that you're great looking, have a beautiful wife, perfect children, own your own island, and can heal the sick and raise the dead?

    If I left anything out (I'm certain I have), please include and embellish it as well.



  50. @Peon -


    I want to keep my pseudonym a pseudonym. If I was to explain what my publications are, list what I have written, disclose more about my business, it would be easy for someone to work out my name.

    I do have a beautiful and very talented wife, I don't have children, do not own an island (but I do have a mortgage) I cannot heal the sick or dying (though that would be nice) and the last time I tried walking on water my shoes got soggy.

    And if you have a sexy sounding practice that law students think a course from you might get them into, law schools will ask you to teach International environmental sports law or something like it.

    Meanwhile Peon - FYVM

  51. Love the post, loved the comments. Ya'll can just leave MacK alone. The guy is all right in my book.

    And, seriously, I was raised by wolves.

  52. I suppose you could say any analogy works if you are willing to ignore differences between the things being compared. I guess the question to ask is what is MacK getting at by comparing the billing process in a firm to law professors' compensation through set salaries, or to any other job for that matter where compensation is not determined by billable hours. This very problematic practice (billing by the hour) -- which has come increasingly under fire-- is being presented as if it is a "pure" method of determining value, when it is anything but that. Sure, I guess it's an exercise that could be done, with very subjective notions of how to categorize individual variables ( person A says this is overhead, person B says no), but it's like a "what if Jesus and Superman got in a fight, who'd win", question-- something to be asked not for a answer that is meaningful, but to give the questioner the chance to state a conclusion that he/she has likely already come to.

  53. 12:21: "Mack,... more detail about your accomplishments, how universities are clamoring ..., and also the fact that you're great looking, have a beautiful wife, "

    Guess you missed the post the other day where MacK actually admitted to being old, pudgy, and possessed of a small unit.

    But he does have lots and lots of miles, which makes up for a lot.

  54. MacK said:

    "My typos are impressive - I need to stop switching keyboards so much"

    MacK reminds me of the Captain: The enigmatic 70's mysterious genius of music playing multiple keyboards to an awestruck, worldwide audience.

    I remember when the Captain and his wife shook American society to it's very foundations and rocketed their way to the very top of the vinyl record music charts and celebrated pop baby boomer society.

    And then, they faded into obscurity. You might catch this song on satellite radio, but I don't know.

    A good lesson for the young folks. What may seem so important today, be it what is in the papers or even your problems, such as student loan debt or the law school scam, may well be something long forgotten and something to maybe even laugh at in years to come.

    And MacK knows I am just taking soft jabs.

    But here is the mysterious Captain GENIUS who never talked, playing on 3 keyboards:

  55. ^^Sedaka is Back!

  56. 12:54

    Let's be clear. Law professors explain their salaries by saying that they should be compared to what a BigLaw partner makes - or an associate. So they are already making the connection. Moreover, since I have clients that pay on a monthly retainer basis and clients that pay hourly, I can say that it works out pretty well the same in cost per hour.

    Anyway you look at it, $160,850 per credit hour for a first year law section (100 students in GW) or for a core course $642,500 in revenue for a class in Torts, Contracts, Property, etc. is an astronomical amount of money for what amounts to 60 hours of classroom time and maybe another 180 of non-classroom time. No law firm is pulling in that sort of revenue even for partners considered legal "gods." Even a 30 student class for 2 credit hours is still an ungodly amount of money for what is being delivered.

    Next time you visit even the plushest of BigLaw firms, wander down the marble hallways, look at the plush conference rooms, the offices, the libraries, the ranks of secretaries, receptionists, kitchen - consider, they sell top partner time at $600-900 per hour, overhead included. That public law schools need - with a subsidy - at least $1800 per hour for a law professor's time is ludicrous - and that is at the low end - in many instances for private schools we are talking about $5,000 plus

    You have to find some market reference somewhere and I am being generous to most law professors in comparing their value to a very experienced top-drawer law firm partner.

  57. Yes, all law professors say that... I don't know any law professor who says he/she be making what a partner in a law firm makes. So, take that off the table.

    Look, the calculations have no meaning without a more in depth look at the institution--how the money is spent, who it goes to, and what the nature of the jobs are. So, I'm not trying to convince you of anything. If you think what you are doing makes sense, and if DJM wants to devote her time to trying to make you right, fine.

  58. Not to beat this theme to death, but here is another example of how things that seem so damn important at one time turn out to be very unimportant or something people just want to forget about is the guy that came out years later in his old age and admitted he was: "Deep Throat" from the whole Nixon Watergate thing.

    The papers gave the admission a bit of notice, but I remember reading some editorials that said, in effect: "Who cares by now?"

    Yet, at the time Watergate was so important, and Hollywood made a movie about it with Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman and it had a title even.

    One of them: Redford or Hoffman, wore a corduroy sports jacket too I think. You know, a journalist knight in shining corduroy?

    The only people that talk about Nixon now, if at all, are Historians, or extreme right wingers.

    Even the Left wants to forget it.

    But when I was a kid, I remember people stopping in the street to argue about "Watergate"

  59. Sadder_But_Weiser said...

    "But he[MacK] does have lots and lots of miles, which makes up for a lot."

    But he won't give me any of his miles, so he's dead to me.

  60. Sadder -

    I just endured 7 hours with the child of satan in the same cabin - I need something to make up for it....and there are times when engine noise cancelling headphones are perhaps not the best idea

    inter alia, how do you ask Satan to take the child back....

  61. 7 hours = take the business cabin, man.

  62. good article on the scam and the glut:

    Spread it around!

  63. MacK - A sidebar to your very incisive posts. Whatever their stated salary is, a large amount of a law professor's compensation is in the coin of leisure. Did you ever in you career get a three month paid vacation? What is the capitalized value of three months off. What's the money equivalent of a paid month for Christmas and Easter. And how about two or three hours each afternoon? William Ockham

  64. referring to the oregon live article I posted above, one good angle to use when attacking the law school scam is to link it to the higher education scam in general and to blame the economy on student loan debt.

  65. ^^Alan Collinge has a recommendation:

    Make SL Debt dischargeable in Bankruptcy.

    He is an Engineer, and not a lawyer, and in my opinion puts lawyers to shame.

  66. Let's be clear. Law professors explain their salaries by saying that they should be compared to what a BigLaw partner makes - or an associate.

    I have often heard law profs try to justify their salaries by speculating about how much they could be making in private practice. (Judges and gov't lawyers do the same thing, FWIW.) We, as taxpayers if not law students & alums, are entitled to know what law profs and admins do for their money.

  67. William-Ockham,

    As I may have previously stated, she-who-must has a certain notoriety among my colleagues for informing me loudly on our honeymoon during a sudden conference call that if I took one more call she was going to insert the phone is a place no phone should go. Ever since when I get a new phone they inspect it and comment on the degree of discomfort it is likely to cause, the nadir being the Nokia e61 - which she helped develop! We are trying to plan a vacation now - but over the last 3 days matters have landed in the door and I am buried again.

    In about 20 years of practice I have not had an uninterrupted vacation - I find it hard to recall an uninterrupted weekend. When a GC in Europe a problem arose under the Working Time Directive in late November when my company's HR department worked out that I needed to take 18 days of vacation - not including the public holidays - for the company to be in compliance with the minimum 20 days vacation - this was because they had put back into my account the days on which they saw that I had a substantial cellphone bill while on earlier vacations that year - when your roaming charges hit 4 figures they tend to notice.

    At least in private practice you are never off - you can never take a vacation where there is no cellphone coverage anymore, you always need to be on e-mail. When my father was dying - literally - I was in an ITC case and had to work on briefs in the kitchen - because a USITC judge will not even give an extension under those circumstances.

    So yes, a job that allows you to actually take real time off is priceless.

  68. Back to this notion of what the job entails. Law professors who are not doing their jobs take three months off. For most people who are doing the job, the summer is the time for research and writing, meeting with students who are doing externships, writing recommendations, reading other people's articles/books. Again, that most people on this site do not take scholarship seriously does not change the fact that this is part of the job people are hired to do. Whether it should be that way at every school is worth a discussion. There could be HYS and then everybody else. But we've been talking about the here and now.

  69. "For most people who are doing the job, the summer is the time for research and writing, meeting with students who are doing externships, writing recommendations, reading other people's articles/books. Again, that most people on this site do not take scholarship seriously does not change the fact that this is part of the job people are hired to do. "

    Scholarship (reading and learning, if you will) is part of the job as lawyer. Most of us just wedge it in wherever it happens to fit. We don't get a summer off to "catch up" on it.

  70. @4:25

    There is a big difference between the summer you describe and that of most lawyers in private practice - you get to plan days off, you get to plan a vacation where you will be free for 2-3 weeks, there will be no unexpected urgencies you need to deal with, no sudden crisis or surprise motions to respond to - no client with their business needing an answer yesterday....

    Any law professor who think there is any comparison is deluded

  71. As a physcian and former faculty member at a medical school there are numerous misconceptions about the safety of medicine as a career. The medical schools are on exactly the same path as the law schools except the crash will hit later than it has in law. The exhorbitant tuition increases in medical schools exactly parallel what has happened in law.
    One difference is that physicians must do a residency (effectively an apprenticeship) prior to going into practice. Residency funding comes predominantly from the government (CMS/Medicare). This funding has been capped and the number of first year (entry level) residency slots is static at approximately 25000. The number of new US medical schools opening and old medical schools increasing their enrollments is astounding. It is basically being done to grab those big tuition dollars.
    Here are some facts;
    The slow growth in GME (residency) positions — an annual rate of 0.9% over the past decade (Nasca T: personal communication) — contrasts with the increases in enrollment that have occurred in 100 of the 125 allopathic medical schools and a doubling of enrollments in osteopathic medical schools. By 2015, combined first-year enrollment in allopathic and osteopathic schools is projected to reach 26,403, an increase of 35% over 2002 numbers. Eight new allopathic schools and nine osteopathic schools or branch campuses have enrolled their first classes or soon will do so (for details, see Table 1 in the Supplementary Appendix, available with the full text of this article at
    In an interview, Dr. Thomas Nasca, CEO of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, expressed concern over the narrowing gap between the number of entry-level GME posts and the growing number of medical school graduates. Nasca said, “We estimate that we will see domestic production of medical school graduates functionally surpass our current total number of GME postgraduate year-one pipeline positions [posts that lead to initial specialty certification] by 2015 or sooner
    Nasca added, “In the absence of congressional action to lift the cap, or the unlikely prospect of securing other sources of GME support, we face the risk of graduating physicians in the United States who will be unable to obtain the training required to obtain a license to practice independently.”
    In this era of trillion dollar deficits the chances of funding significant additional residency spots by Congress is zero. The government would rather see more nurse practitioners and physician assistants who can go into practice directly out of school and are not required to do a government funded residency/apprenticeship. Many of my med school professor colleagues are well aware that we are building a massive med school bubble that will be exploding. I have found that the faculty members close to retirement generally don't give a damn, particularly if they will be retiring by 2015 when the bubble begins to burst.

  72. "In about 20 years of practice I have not had an uninterrupted vacation - I find it hard to recall an uninterrupted weekend. When a GC in Europe a problem arose under the Working Time Directive in late November when my company's HR department worked out that I needed to take 18 days of vacation - not including the public holidays - for the company to be in compliance with the minimum "

    At least I do get uninterrupted weekends. That is to say, while I do usually have work to do over the weekends, it's solitary work and probably less than 1 weekend in 6 that I have to actually go somewhere or have significant amount of t/c with others relating to work.

    While I've never managed to not work on vacations, I've also only had to actually leave my family (for work purposes) while on vacation twice in the last 15 years. One I knew about in advance and planned ahead for, the other just "popped up", but in both cases I was able to rejoin them before the vacation ended.

    As for vacation days, being in a US company, there's no compliance issues and it's just a "Hey, ha-ha-ha, sucks to be a lawyer, don't it?" type of situation. I can roll two weeks a year but still usually forfeit a week or so annually.

  73. Sadder:

    I do get uninterrupted weekends - but they are usually unexpectedly so - as in something is resolved on a Friday - weekends that one anticipates being uninterrupted are typically interrupted, and the quiet August I was expecting just went down the pan...

  74. But you were the one making the analogy to partners and professors above with your billable hours business. I've said from the beginning that the jobs are very different-- have different goals, requirements, and other things. I was responding to the statement that law professors take three months "off" every year. That's a different point.

  75. Oh, I don't know. I'm old I think, but still going in my mind on 18 years old, and I think becoming a lawyer and going to Law School is kinda cool?

    What the hell is the problem with everyone around here?

    I will only believe law school is a scam if Oprah Winfrey or Rachel Maddow or Matt Lauer says it.

    Now where is that promissory note for me to sign?

  76. ^^^ Isn't Maddow one of Matt Lauer's younger step-brothers?

  77. Dr. Cooler, thanks for the info on the med school issue forthcoming. Question for you - what happens to the med grad for whom no residency is available? Assuming s/he still passes whatever state boards are required, can s/he "hang a shingle" (as it were), becoming a solo GP analogous to a solo lawyer?

  78. Absolute humiliation.

    1L Hell was absolute humiliation with no pay off and a SCAM and a rip off in exchange for a lifetime of life destroying debt.

    law school is a SCAM!

    Not only do the cruel professors humiliate, they pass the marginal students and glutted classrooms of lemmings on to the second year so as to take the easy borrowed money so as to support lavish incomes and lifestyles that were unheard of before the student loan gravy train.

    Whatever happended to the age old notion of the poor scholar?

    The law school professors did all of this knowingly and with knowledge of the poor job market and are in the end, if not criminal, just a bunch of inhumane hypocritical bastards.

    If any law grad out there that is drowning in SL debt until the grave feels a deep and abiding and burning and smouldering surreal hatred for his or her former law school professors, he or she is not alone.

    The best that said academics can do to atone for their crimes against their former students, if not humanity itself, is to help in advocating for the reform of the current student lending system.

    If they even care, which is doubtful.

    How bitter it all is.

    How bitter it is to listen to the successful people and commenters here talk about all this with binoculars and from a great distance.

  79. ^^^ wouldn't that be "talk about all this with megaphones and a great distance"? Just checkin'.

  80. @5:07

    When law school professors seek to justify their salaries (down to the typical starting salary of $160k) they reflexively point to private practice lawyers as the justification - when you examine their basic credentials they are the same as lawyers, when you examine what they are supposed to pretend to teach - it is the law as practiced. However, when it is pointed out that law schools are charging an effective hourly rate that is a multiple of the typical top law firm partner - oooooh it is not the same thing.

    And your explanation of how it is different - is that law professors get a leisurely 3 month semi-vacation in the summer, not to mention 3 weeks to a month at Christmas. If you are a law professor you need a serious kicking.

    Please explain how it can be reasonable to charge over $600k to teach a first year section contracts? Using a textbook and presumably teaching materials from the publisher (like a course outline) and even more eggregiously maybe using a sample exam with sample answers.... (and you know that happens) - please do - we are waiting in rapt attention, like a bunch of first years that your are telling to "think like a lawyer"

  81. By the way - if you want to see an example of admittedly Business School hypocrisy watch this video:

    Impressive, moral sounding professor isn't he - Richard Quinn.

    Guess how the scandal took place - yes Quinn was using a textbook that came from the publisher with a course outline, a set of exam questions and guess what the answers to those questions. Some enterprising students obtained the questions and answers direct from the publisher. And hence the scandal - Quinn was cheating his students, pretending to be able to create a course, teach it and set an exam - but he had bought it - and his students cheated him right back!

  82. Yes, all law professors "reflexively" justify their salaries on the basis of what associates at big firms are making. Nope.

    As for the rest of it... I have no idea what you are talking about. You sound drunk.

  83. I saw this video of a professor that has a mental meltdown because someone yawned in his class. It makes you think of the sociopaths that pass as law professors nowadays:

  84. Still good placement if you graduate from an allopathic medical school in the U.S. Some people do not get matched to a residency and have to scramble, but I have not heard of anyone from a U.S. allopathic med school not getting a residency.

    Different if you are from a non-U.S. med school. You might not be matched.

  85. LP/DJM, Must read, not only because law grads can relate, but especially because it shows how clueless the government is. They think for-profit schools are the only problem but I for one would MUCH RATHER go into debt to study art. At least you don't graduate art school with a non-trivial likelihood of mental illness. Please do a post on this if at all possible.

  86. Sadder_But_Weiser
    You cannot get a license in the vast majority of states without at least one year of residency training.

    The vast majority of insurance companies will not credential a physician who has not completed at least three years of residency. The overwhelming majority of employers and practices will not hire a doc who has not completed a full residency of at least 3 years.
    7:16 PM is living in the past and has no idea of today's reality:
    The number of US med school grads who do not land a residency is now small but is increasing and getting ready to explode as outlined in the link I posted above by Dr. Nasca of the ACGME in the New England Journal of Medicine article. A medical school graduate without residency training is just another unemployed person with a lot of debt.
    The following article focuses on the Carribean med school graduates but the same basic principles still apply to US grads:
    By 2015 you will see an explosion of Med School Scam blogs as more med students are left unemployed after graduation.

  87. P.S. Although the details are somewhat complex, funding for residency spots is coming under the ax as part of deficit reduction as well:

  88. @6:01 - it has been evident for a few post that you are a law professor - and not a very good one. Most would for example have the intelligence to test a proposition like Yes, all law professors "reflexively" justify their salaries on the basis of what associates at big firms are making. Nope.

    It took me a 30 second google search - and if you are not smart enough to do that - well maybe you are not intelligent enough to actually practice law and you certainly cannot "think like a lawyer" - so don't use that line again.

    "one justification for high law professor salaries is that law professors could make more (sometimes much more) on the private legal market as practitioners. It's a common law professor lament (especially for junior professors) that they make less (often MUCH less) than a just-graduated student in the first year of practice at a major national law firm. Traditionally, those firms have paid in lockstep (every member of any particular class makes the same salary), and first-year associates right out of law school have been paid $160,000. Not including bonuses, which could be in the tens of thousands of dollars. "

    "Can law professors continue to justify their high salaries (at least as compared to most other academic disciplines)? That seems less than clear given that national law firm salaries are going down. So says the ABA Journal and esteemed colleague Bill Henderson, who believes that law firm models--and salary scales--are in the midst of a sea change. Without the potential of a ridiculously high starting salary, many potential law students will be unwilling to attend and pay for law school."

    And here is one of your peers comments:

    "Time has come for professors to demand a lot more $$. Fact is, a lot of talented young lawyers "could" do the entry-level professor thing. Can they replace a 10-year in law professor? No way, not these days--easy case in point--much less judgment in terms of who to hire or tenure. Fact is, tenured law profs should agitate for doubled pay!"

    I could go on, posting statement after statement where law faculty pay has been justified by reference to BigLaw salaries. But I would rather rag on you being someone who has the vanity to actually think that you should be teaching people to practice law - but who so dumb that you would make statements like the one I just quoted....

    Please, do us all a favour, stop teaching whatever it is you teach - you certainly are not qualified to teach or train lawyers.

  89. Oh and @6:01 - here is a hilarious posting given the comparison I was just making between lawyers hourly rates and the efefctive hourly rates law professors charge - was this you?

    According to this recent article, Latham & Watkins is reporting over $2.2 million per partner, an increase of about 20% over last year, despite the market downturn. I know comparing law professor salaries to big firm partner profits is like comparing apples to, well, Porsches, but my sense is that most law professor salaries do not experience the kinds of increases we have seen in big firm private practice. I can think of several basic economic reasons. One might be the fact that there is a certain level of job satisfaction in academia that compensates for lower salaries, but I would imagine that, at least at the partner level, there is a high level of job satisfaction among big firm lawyers as well (though perhaps that's partly because of the money). Another reason might be the monetary value of our respective services to our respective consumers. Big companies are willing to shell out the big bucks for quality legal counsel; students are less willing/able to do the same for a quality legal education. But there is a self-imposed institutional pressure to keep student tuitions low and as affordable as possible that is not entirely economically motivated (see Harvard's attempt here). Is there something noneconomic going on here? Are we institutionally afraid of being overpaid (or viewed as being overpaid)?

    I feel like I should do a Jon Stewart giggle here...the comments are particularly hilarious - maybe we are not like Latham (you bet you are not, in his fondest dreams the Managing Partner of Latham never thought he could charge a $1,800-$5,000 billing rate.

    Touchingly many of the law professors thought they were actually badly paid compared to most lawyers - you know, everyday lawyers, not the people at Latham .... amazingly none ever looked at the BLS data to see how well they were doing.

  90. @ MacK-- Ah, yes... life in the blogosphere where comments on Prawfsblawg represent the reality and attitudes of over 17,000 people. Yes, but you've got the "math"-- still drunk.

  91. Hey 6.01 - nice of you not to deny using the casebook publishers' canned course outline and exam

  92. You are not drunk. You are just out of your mind.

  93. The sad thing isn't that he ended up owing massive student loan debt. He should have realized he would owe that much when he agreed to borrow it. The sad thing is even with his hard work, academic achievement, volunteer work, and substantial financial sacrifice, he is still not likely to get a job as a prosecutor or any other type of government attorney. There are so many other people in the exact same situation and these jobs are much fewer than the demand.

  94. 6:01 and 9:04

    I suppose that you don't teach that when you start making ad hominem attacks you have lost the argument.

    Frankly the suggestion that you are making, that lawyers salaries are not used to justify law professors' pay, is just silly - ask you colleagues. Better still, ask your dean.

  95. I'm a law professor, and I can unequivocally say that my colleagues trot out the, "But we'd lose people to private practice!" argument when we talk about our salaries.

    As for all the talk of scholarship...

    Yes, it's part of the job. But it's my guess, judging by faculty productivity, that 60% of my colleagues at my rising-T2 don't do any work over the summer except to attend conferences and drink wine on the law school's dime. It is simply unbelievable to me that someone could do 40 hours of work a week over the summer for three summers and not produce a single scholarly article, and yet it is not uncommon to identify people for whom that is the case.

    These things are not actually hard to do. I mean, yes, there are some articles that are particularly difficult and there are some people who are doing stuff that will take longer... but your every day average law review article? If you're gestating it properly during the school year and reading and keeping up with the literature (something that takes, at most, a few hours a week), a month is generous, and we all know that.

    So how is it that if you aggregated all law professors, you'd find significant proportions of them who do not produce anything at all?

    Add in the fact that many (if not most) schools use bonus payments of several thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars to motivate faculty to produce articles, and I'm just not buying this "scholarship" claim.

    Yes, I get that scholarship is important and part of the job. But the evidence suggests to me that, averaged out over the entire four tiers of law schools, faculty scholarship is by and large just not getting done.

    Compensation--and tuition--at fourth tier schools where there's very little scholarship--is not so radically different from the first tier schools which take scholarship seriously.

    If our job, collectively, as faculty members, is to produce scholarship, collectively, we as faculty members are failing--failing so badly that deans have to bribe faculty members with incentive payments of up to $15,000 a piece to produce scholarship. And even that's not working.

    I get the scholarship claim. I like law scholarship. But I think when first tier law professors trot out "but we do scholarship!" as an explanation, they're missing the fact that more than half of law professors do not.

  96. And then to cliche. "If you resort to this,then you've lost the blah, blah, blah..." This from a person who, totally out of the blue, invoked violent imagery--"if you are a law professor, you need a serious kicking" to make a point.

    Look, this thread is dead. You are not drunk. You are not crazy. But, whatever you say is right, MacK. That's what you want. That's what you need. So, you get the last word. Take it.

  97. @6:12-- The kind of people who go into legal academia can do more things than go into the "private practice" of law. My classmates who had the credentials to take the traditional route academia-- law review, clerkships-- did a wide range of things besides going into private practice. Many of those things were quite lucrative, other things were not, but provided them with great satisfaction in other ways. I think most members of law faculties recognize that they are competing, not just with outfits that bill by the hour, but with a range of opportunities that are open to people who graduate at the very top of their classes at the very top law schools.

    Yes, there are differences in law schools. I have said in earlier comments on this and other threads, that B. Tamanaha's idea of having different types of law schools-- those research and writing oriented and those that are not-- might be the best way to go. Do you agree?

  98. This comment has been removed by the author.

  99. 6;21 - you do know what a cliché actually is - it's a term from typesetting - French typesetters used to keep whole words, phrases and even sentences assembled from characters to speed the manual typesetting process.

    If you regard the "If you resort to this,then you've lost the blah, blah, blah..." as a cliché it seems to indicate that your are frequently found to be making ad hominem attacks - and as for a kicking - the suggestion was that someone needs to "buck up" your thinking - slap some sense into you ... because if you really believe that private sector salaries are not sued to justify law professor salaries, or that your dean has not made reference to them when arguing about the pay scale you are personally on, there is little hope for you. Why don't you try your suggestion in the faculty lounge - and wonder at the looks you are getting even there....

  100. @7:02--

    I don't disagree with the notion that there should be two tiers of schools. But that isn't what we have.

    Perhaps a better way to say what I think is this: people who spout that "but law professors can do anything!" line are overselling their hand.

    It's been my experience that many (not all, of course) law professors are law professors because they are too risk averse to do most of those things that they are otherwise intellectually qualified to do. Because yes, maybe law professors could make a million bucks at a CEO--but you could also be ousted after six months because of a predecessor's mistake and end up so tarred with the backblow that you can't get another job in the field.

    One of the oddities of life is that we give people jobs with tenure because we want them to be able to do anything, but the people who seek jobs with tenure tend to be extremely risk averse. Tenure is wasted on 99% of the faculty.

    (Of course, the other 1% gives us people like Campos--if he were at a firm, he'd have been pushed out by now. I'm not against tenure, but in function, it doesn't just allow institutional criticism-. It also aligns faculty interests with the institution--they're so interested in holding on to their prerogatives that they lose the ability to criticize the institution granting it.)

    The other thing that this "do things outside of academia" explanation does not explain is the difference between entry-level and upper-echelon pay, even for people who have extremely poor scholarly track records.

    Do we really think that someone who produces a paper of gobbledy-gook every two years and has for twenty years has the same options that a fresh-faced SCOTUS clerk has? No way.

    There are a handful of professors who could successfully transfer out of academia at any institution--you may be one of them, and your friends may be among them. It's my experience that the people who are in that set have an artificially rosy view of academia, because the people who aren't in that set are the ones you don't see.

    But the vast majority of 20-year law professors have lost the intellectual flexibility to do anything else. And yet there are moribund 30-year-people at every institution who are making around the 200K mark.

    There's no question in my mind that outside pressures account for some of the law professor salary. But there's also no question in my mind that internal pressures--that law school deans tend to be insiders, something that is effectively an ABA requirement; that faculty govern themselves and oversee their own budgets--are artificially inflating law professor salaries.

    To put it another way: If we kicked all law professors out of their current jobs, and had them apply for the jobs out there in one fell swoop, I think more than 90% of them would not get the salary that they have now.

  101. Dr. Cooler, thank you for returning to answer questions and also for the interesting links. It does sound (from reading the articles you linked) that 7:16 may be running on outdated information and not seeing the cliff ahead in your road.

    And I did take note on reading 7:16's comments that s/he carefully did not address the osteopaths, who are a significant portion of grads. I haven't been associated with medicine since the mid `90s (used to tag the initials MT, ASCP, HEW/HHS after my name) but recall the osteos had certain prejudice-based barriers to entry... (whether this is deserved or not I am not qualified to guess).

  102. @ 7:42--I take it you are not 6:12-- No, we do not have a FORMAL system of differentiating law schools. Tamanaha's point is that the ABA standards should allow for that process to come into being. It is about the future. There is a problem. What can be done about it besides endless recrimination, which may be cathartic, but does not advance the ball?

    Certainly people have disputed whether taking this turn would provide much savings. In all areas of higher education, school rank and academic reputation have almost no bearing on the price of the school. There are many schools that are more expensive than HPYS. That's also true of private elementary and secondary education in major cities. They all charge about the same thing, though the "outcomes" -- colleges people attend-- can be wildly different. This may be incendiary, but there is a post up on TaxProf about scholarship and law schools.

    It would be difficult for anyone pulled out of his/her job/career mid-stream to function. There's no question about that. But I don't know where the hypo takes us beyond the assertion, as there will never be a way to prove it.

  103. Here is a suggestion:

    If your law degree doesn't make you a skilled migrant, you might be able to become a citizen of another country in another way.

    Perhaps you can meet someone in another country through online dating.

    Marry them, and get citizenship, and then move if necessary so as to escape your sl debt.

  104. For the law professor at 6:12 who writes, "I get the scholarship claim. I like law scholarship. But I think when first tier law professors trot out "but we do scholarship!" as an explanation, they're missing the fact that more than half of law professors do not."

    Maybe we have another data point arguing for a bimodal distribution in Law Prof salaries here. Or possibly trimodal is more warranted. T20 at one peak, remainder tier 1 - tier 2 at second peak, and TTT/TTTT at a third peak. Corresponding adjustment to tuition. T20 keep their salary and anyone desiring that education pay what that market bears. Second bunch of profs max have their median around 110K. Third batch of profs median ca. 60K.

  105. Speaking of Tamanaha, he got a pretty extensive review in the Washington Post.

  106. Cheeta the chimp played opposite Johnny Weismuller in "Tarzan's New York Adventure" and won the Oscar for Best Simian Actor in 1942.

    There were three nominees that year, and Coco the gorilla said it was a fix.

  107. ^^Boy! Talk about a scam!

  108. Buster Crabbe played the title role in" "Tarzan The Fearless" in 1933.

    Some say that Buster Crabbe could have beaten Michael Phelps hands down any time.

  109. ^^ No way. But maybe Mark Spitz could have.

    Gotta love a 70's stache and a Red, White and Blue Speedo!

  110. @9:47AM

    Yes, but Coco won a posthumous Oscar for his title role in: "Gorillas in the Mist"

  111. On the medical school vs. law school issue there are some distinct differences. Many colleges and universities have treated their law school as a profit center - a cash cow. By contrast the same universities (two examples being GW and Georgetown) have found their medical schools to be a cash drain, in part because they usually require the support of a money losing teaching hospital. Indeed, one of the reasons that so many colleges and universities have been jacking up law school tuition and sucking money out is to support their medical schools. In addition to teaching hospitals medical schools require a lot of expensive plant - i.e., student laboratories and the research that medical faculties do is also expensive (and real) as compared to the research and "scholarship" of law professors.

    Because medical schools are rarely cash flow positive for colleges there is less of an incentive to grow the schools as compared to law schools. That is not to say that there is no overproduction issue, but it is not in the same league as the JD

  112. What do Med Schools have to do with Cheeta the Chimp?

    Stop trolling this blog!

  113. MacK,
    Please stick to law.
    You are completely incorrect about medical schools. Many new medical schools have no attached teaching hospital at all, particularly the osteopathic schools which have increased at a rapid rate. Most medical schools are now total cash cows.
    Here is an article that describes the huge profits that can be made by medical schools:

    It is complete nonsense to state there is less incentive to increase class sizes in medical schools. Tuition and fees levels that now average 40k plus per year provide plenty of incentive.

  114. This comment has been removed by the author.

  115. Sadder_But_Weiser,
    Looks like you are probably very familiar with pathology and laboratory medicine. I can tell you that the prejudices against osteopathic physicians have largely vanished over the past 20 years.

  116. People describing medical schools need to distinguish between allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. Allopathic schools accept 42% or applicants on average. Osteopathic take people who do not get in to allopathic schools. For anyone who cannot get into a allopathic medical school, their life. career amd opportunities are less than if they had gotten in. As of today there are 17,000 to 18,000 allopathic med school grads a year and they generally have very good residency opportunities and very good employment opportunities. That being said, New York City has a glut of doctors as likely do other metropolitan areas. Pay is lower for doctors in New York City than in areas with more of a doctor shortage. If one is an M.D. and a specialist, that person may not be able to get a job in New York City, and may need to work in New Jersey or farther upstate in New York. However, all of this at least for MDs is nothing like the disaster of law school employment statistics.

  117. Hi:

    My name is Timmy O'Toole, and like, I think this blog is really, like, cool?

    I just fell off the cabbage truck, and I'm a sophisticated young 22 year old consumer kid and I want to like, go to law school?

    Does anyone have any advice for me?



  118. Allopathic medical schools have increased their enrollment but by very little in the last 40 years. A few new allopathic med schools are opening up (8 I believe in the last few years), but these schools have small classes. We are talking going from 17,000 to 19,000 allopathic med school grads a year at most once all of these schools are at capacity. Allopathic med schools award an MD degree. Osteopathic schools award an OD. There is no glut of MDs. The OD market may get glutted, but MDs will always beat the ODs out for any job or any residency if there ever is a glut. It is different from going to a top school, which gets a person a first job but later in a career matters much less. A person with an OD will always have lesser career opportunities than an MD.

  119. This comment has been removed by the author.

  120. 10:55 AM and 11:03 AM = More nonsense.
    Allopathic enrollemnt has ramped up greatly
    Osteopathic enrollment has ramped up greatly:

    By 2015, combined first-year enrollment in allopathic and osteopathic schools is projected to reach 26,403, an increase of 35% over 2002 numbers. Eight new allopathic schools and nine osteopathic schools or branch campuses have enrolled their first classes or soon will do so (for details, see Table 1 in the Supplementary Appendix, available with the full text of this article at
    In an interview, Dr. Thomas Nasca, CEO of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, expressed concern over the narrowing gap between the number of entry-level GME posts and the growing number of medical school graduates. Nasca said, “We estimate that we will see domestic production of medical school graduates functionally surpass our current total number of GME postgraduate year-one pipeline positions [posts that lead to initial specialty certification] by 2015 or sooner
    Nasca added, “In the absence of congressional action to lift the cap, or the unlikely prospect of securing other sources of GME support, we face the risk of graduating physicians in the United States who will be unable to obtain the training required to obtain a license to practice independently.”

    Is there any part of the above you do not comprehend? This is a bubble of immense proportion which is entirely comparable to the law school bubble which has now burst. I think after the next match in 2013 shows a significant increase in unemployed and unmatched US medical students I will start an Inside the Medical School Scam blog. The numbers do not lie and the numbers are inescapable.

  121. To 11:03 "Allopathic med schools award an MD degree. Osteopathic schools award an OD. ... OD market may get glutted, but MDs will always beat the ODs out for any job... OD will always have lesser career opportunities than an MD. "

    Amusing. OD's eh?

    I do a lot of work now associated with the ophthalmic pharma industry and I'm not sure who you've insulted more - the OD's for referring to them as osteophaths or the DO's for referring to them as optometrists.

  122. MacK-
    I am fascinated by who you might be. You quite obviously know a lot about the real business of high level law practice and you apparently know quite a bit about legal education. My guess is you have had a bit of experience with both and you have created this online character who is able to make the kind of insightful and well written contributions that you make on a regular basis. You sound like a lot of friends of mine!
     I have been around law for 50 years, including my law school education which started exactly 50 years ago. In my first year of law school Gideon v. Wainwright was decided. My national moot court problem was based on 
    Miranda v. Arizona. The federal judge for whom I clerked handled the federal case that was combined with  Miranda. In other words there was a whole lot going on when I first came into the law business. It was an incredibly exciting time and I wanted a little bit of all of it. The reason that I became an academic was that could have a little taste of all of it. And that is exactly what the first 30 years of my career was. I was able to be a highly regarded law professor and at the same time to handle special litigation dealing with matters of the public interest. The very first case that I had ended up in the US Supreme Court where as a young 30 something lawyer I was given the privilege of presenting an oral argument before the Court. I had several other cases in the Supreme Court that provided me with an opportunity to bring into the classroom much of the insight that I gained during my litigation experiences. Since one of the courses that I taught was Federal Jurisdiction that worked very well and I was highly supported by the various deans along the way who appreciated the fact that I could bring to my students some insights that were based upon experience. I also did a lot of work with the bar and at one time became the chair of the trial practice section. I published a lot but the publications were not all in academic law reviews but were often in practical bar oriented publications, though one of the was cited by SCOTUS a couple of times. Basically I had a perfect life where I made decent money and had tremendous freedom to do exactly what I wanted to do and still had a lot of time to spend with my family. 

    All of that ended in the late 1990s when my T-1 state law school made the decision that it wanted to become a National school. As one of my colleagues then said "if you want to play with the big dogs get off of the porch" and the name of the game suddenly became status in the "rankings" and heavy publication of "scholarly" articles by members of the faculty. I found it exceedingly unpleasant and retired though I continued to teach until last year.

    I recite all of this history in the hope that I can demonstrate that I have a foot in both the practical world of law practice and the world of academic law. From my position I think it is absolutely so that the majority of people that I know in legal academia  outside of HYS would not be attractive to law firms at anything like the level of pay that they now get. I confirmed that with a friend of mine who is a name partner in a national law firm who said that in truth a lateral hire of that kind would be most unlikely. To make it into a big national firm at the level these fellows are talking about requires that you bring with you a nice sized book of business or that you have the kind of international star power that will attract new business. Only a few legal academics possess that and the rest are going to find it really hard to get work in a rapidly consolidating world of practice.

  123. Dr. Cooler, thanks. But note in 10:55's post, assuming s/he has anything to do with the industry, that the "a DO is a guy who couldn't get into a real med school" bias does still appear to be alive in some regards.

    Yeah on pathology, but that was a long time ago. Nowadays I just know enough to be dangerous....

  124. "Hi: My name is Timmy O'Toole, and ... anyone have any advice for me?"

    Sure Timmy:

    Eat. More. Cabbage.

    You're Welcome!

  125. Comments were directed at allopathic med schools which I am familiar with. I am not as familiar with osteopathic med schools. That being said, the top teaching hospitals in New York City have a very high percentage or 100% MDs on their teaching staffs. I have never gone to an osteopathic doctor because my insurance covers the cost of an MD. The point is that if you are getting a medical degree as a doctor and it is not an MD degree, you are taking a risk like the risk of going to a second tier law school. Unlike a second tier law school, which awards a JD degree, if you are an osteopathic doctor, you have a different degree and at least in highly competitive urban areas, a disadvantage in getting work, patients, and running your career. I think the MD is still a good degree. It has risks - everything from contracting HIV from a patient to getting a contagious disease to getting sick from 80 hour weeks in residency and huge workloads in med school. That being said, most MDs fare very well and have job security. It also takes at least a decade to become an MD if you did not take the prerequisites in college. The 42% acceptance rate and all of the med school applications do reflect the large numbers of people who tried to become doctors and failed before the application process. Becoming an MD is somewhat closer to going to a very top law school.

  126. Medical students have already been screwed over by the medical schools, hospitals, and professors in the past through the use of heavy lobbying and the court system to get an antitrust exemption for the resident match as outlined here:
    Further info here:
    In general medical schools and medical school faculty look out predominantly for themselves and not for what is best for the students. The horrendous tuition increases in medical school are another prime example. One year of tuition at the medical school I attended is now greater than what I paid for the entire 4 years of medical school (I graduated in 1997).

  127. The increases in allopathic med school enrollment are tiny relative to what is happening in law schools. Going from 16,500 grads a year in 2002 to 19,200 or an increase of 16.6% is not exactly a glut of doctors. Even with the projected increase to 21,300 in 2016, you are still only talking about an increase of 21%. Plus these are first year enrollment numbers and it takes 7 to 8 years for these people to become practicing doctors. In addition, there was almost no increase in first year allopathic medical school classes from 1970 to 2002. Compare that to law school where the class size went from 16,000 in the early 1970s to 45,000 now. Allopathic med schools are not slated to hit the 40,000 mark any time soon. Osteopathic med schools are caveat emptor situation. May work out great, but you just don't know.

  128. "I have never gone to an osteopathic doctor because my insurance covers the cost of an MD."

    Not sure I understand this statement. I have Horizon BCBS of NJ. I've skimmed the materials available online and it does not differentiate.

    I just checked the 4 practices we use most (the "regular" docs of my spouse and me, the ortho practice I've seen too much of lately, and the peds practice for our kids. All of them have DOs in their practices. And two of them (the ortho and peds) are "elite" practices in this area with reputations for being very discriminating when it comes to who they permit to join.

  129. If you look at Cornell, Columbia, NYU and Mt. Sinai, not sure how many faculty members or affiliated doctors are not MDs. I put internal medicine into the NY Presbyterian Find a Doctor list and almost all have MDs as per the link below:

    If you are in New Jersey, it may be a less competitive job market for doctors than in the big city.

  130. 11:48 with more spouting off and no citations.
    42% is slightly off. Total for 2011-2012 was 44% overall. However for 1st time applicants the acceptance rate is much higher.
    There are many ostepathic physicians in NY including medical school faculty:

    Your comparison of osteopathic schools to lower tier law schools begs the following question:
    A student in the top 30 percent of his/her class at an osteopathic medical school will in my experience typically be selected over a student in the bottom 30 percent of the class at an allopathic medical school for a residency position all else being equal. Will a student in the top 30& of the class at Cooley be selected over a student in the bottom 30% of the class at Harvard by a big law firm?

  131. What is the deal with MacK?

    He's got all the answers and is so much better than everyone else.

    Why is he constantly commenting on this blog?

    Has everyone else in his life driven him off?

    Sounds about right...

  132. @11:43AM

    Tis cabbage that I be eatin fer sure, and turnips as well.

    But still, I be thinkin' that a Law Degree would be fittin' and fine.

    After all, me be a sharp young customer, and a sophisticated consumer, and the master of all that I survey, with caveat emptor as me crrreed!

    Ah, tis a fine thing when the older folks won't be lendin a hand in helpin a young lemmin such as meself to decide on the borrowin of 150K in US dollars.

    But still, and to meself says I: "Young Timmy, tis a lawyer you were meant to be, and tis a lawyer ye shall be!"

  133. MacK knows that it is never about business, and ALWAYS personal.

    Michael Corleone.

  134. 10:34 -

    Thanks for the information. What I knew was evidently out of date and related to particular schools.

  135. I posted the original statement re: med schools. I am aware med schools are hurtin now more than in years past, especially re: residency funding (though a four year "residency" for attorneys to bill clients at a lesser rate, as log as there are jobs for the lawyers after the four years, could work) and slight over supply. I am unaware of the seriousness that Cooler is describing - that jus makes sense considering our oversupply in *every* job sector these days.

    My point originally was that, regardless if a med school grad is a MD or DO, if he went to a residency for say, orthopedic surgery, we don't expect him or her to have to practice internal medicine, or podiatry for that matter, after incurring the debt and training. Someone criticized the kid in the OP for following his prosecutor path. Not only doesn't it exist in law school, but someone who looks to be specialized is criticized. The legal community expects all lawyers to be fungible one ways we would never expect out of doctors. But we consider the law a learned profession. While I don't doubt what Cooler is saying our health could be in serious jeopardy if doctors' outcomes become similar to lawyers...

  136. 12:58, if you aren't JD Painter running around crazy again, I dont know who is...

  137. Very competitive specialties such as dermatology, plastic surgery and various others take only MD grads in residencies. Not true that if you are in the top third of your class in an osteopath school you can beat the bottom third at an MD school. It is like saying the top third at Brooklyn will beat the bottom third at NYU.

  138. @1:24PM

    yeah. Yeah I think so too.

    You gotta watch out for that guy.

    You know him! 327K in quadrupled student loan debt that earns two thousand dollars a month in interest and he's the crazy one. Not the system to blame at all. Not one tiny bit.

    The fault is 100% and completely the fault of JD Painter and he's the crazy one. He is the bad guy.

    And all the top notch lawyers and scholars and judges around here with binoculars, and megaphones and with hypocrisy as a calling card-- around here-- haven't a clue as to what to do, but enjoy listening to themselves talk on and on and on. What a disgrace.

    MacK is Ok though. Seems like a humanitarian all things considered, and maybe that is motive enough in the face of a monster like the student loan sugar teat and all the university people with a vested interest that do not want to let the Lending Gravy train go.

    Some Right Winger Conservatives call student loans an example of Liberal/Democratic Party tax and spend ideology gone bad.

    Some Liberal Left Wingers say that Student Loans are the fault of the Conservative banking industry.

    And others say all political parties are in bed together, and the situation is hopeless and that, morally, Brian Leiter is nothing more than a ridiculous clone of Richard Nixon

    What a disgrace.

  139. Just to clarify, a lot of US med schools are pass fail and the big grades you get are on your licensing exam (USMLE) Step I and Step II. Osteopath grads will take those exams only if they sign up in and take them in addition to their own exam. Some med schools grade for last two years only, but essentially your recommendations and STEP I and STEP II are very important, as are your MCATs and college record in getting a residency. I had a department head at one of the top teaching hospitals in a very competitive specialty telling me that he and his department look at all of these factors in picking the lucky few who get these residencies. So if you applying to a competitive residency, you better have a great MCAT and college record in additiona to to great STEP I and II and great recommendations and med school record to the extent there are grades.

  140. The Medical School Scam Blogs are out of control by now and outnumber the law school scam blogs ten to one.

    So many thousands of MD's thrown into an overcrowded job market.

  141. This comment has been removed by the author.

  142. Not true. Google medical doctor and unemployed and see what you get - nothing recent about unemployed doctors. Google lawyer and unemployed and you get a huge number of results describing the awful job market for lawyers.

  143. What it all boils down to by now in the mind of the Judges is personal responsibiity.

    There is no Institutional Responsibility whatsoever, for the Institutions are all flawless and perfect, and will always be so.

    There is no 1 trillion dollar Sl debt bubble.

    A trillion dollars? No big deal.

  144. 1:42 says "Very competitive specialties such as dermatology, plastic surgery and various others take only MD grads in residencies"
    Complete and utter horsehit.
    I could keep going all freakin day.

  145. There are exceptions some osteopath grads who in the past made it to a competitive specialty, but today the numbers of osteopaths who become plastic surgeons will be a handful each year, and it is through a circuitous path. Look at Is like winning a lottery for an MD student. For an osteo student, is a tiny probability. Before all the fillers, dermatology was not competitive, so you cannot look at older grads in that specialty and say this is what someone can do today.

  146. 2:27 you are full of crap as well. While unmatched US grads and unemployed physicians have not hit law school levels it is only a matter of time.
    Your google is broken.
    Unemployment is rampant already in certain fields of medicine.

    The numbers do not lie:

  147. 2;36
    LOL - student doctor network? are you serious?
    That board is populated predominantly by clueless premeds, med students, and some residents who know as much about real world medical practice as 1Ls know about real world law practice. I am an attending physician with years of experience including years as a medical school faculty member but when I made a couple of posts on that SDN site there were multiple clueless premeds who tried to tell me how they knew more about medicine than I do.

  148. Looked at your post. I do understand that scramble is a disaster if one does not match - something that needs to be fixed by Congress. That being said, most people in MD programs do match. Clearly before one picks an esoteric specialty, or any specialty, one needs to look at whether there is a demand. That being said, if you have a residency in internal medicine and do gastro for example, you can have a very good life. Work on your own, collect a good amount for the gastro, do internal medicine if you cannot get enough gastro work. You can make a good living. Do not need to work at the hospital. You can share space and an admin with other doctors and share an operating facility with other doctors. You will not be unemployed and will not starve. If the hospital fires you because you do not fit in, you can go out on your own, and have success without them. Very different picture from the legal profession where it is so hard to work on one's own and make a living. Same thread for internal medicine and cardio, ob-gyn and infertility etc. In medicine you can hedge your bet by getting a primary care residency and boost your income by getting a fellowship. If you have both to fall back on, you are in good shape.

  149. MacK, great post about calculating the hourly rate of law professors. I have a hard time understanding where all the money goes. If you compare a school in the 80s and the same school today, where does all of the increased revenue go (I.e. who is benefiting)? Professor salaries are high but they don't seem even close to high enough to absorb all of the extra revenue (but I haven't done any calculations to back that feeling up).

  150. 3:26
    My guess is you are a premed or med student.
    You really think gastroenterology is threat free.
    How about this:
    and this:
    Why must Congress fix anything?. The legal profession has outsourced work and automated document review to cut costs.
    The government can just let PAs and NPs have increased roles. PAs and NPs do not require govenrment funded residency programs to practice. With trillion dollar deficits do you really think GME funding is a priority? The Simpson-Bowles commission proposed a 50% GME cut which I think is a minimum level of cuts required. You incorrectly assume massive GMEs are not coming.

  151. Another thing I remember:

    There was once a notion that indicated that available SL funds were capped and limited.

    It could have been during the 1980's or the 90's.

    Anyway, the rebuke to the delinquent Sl debtor said something about paying off the loan so that others can have those funds to borrow.

    I remember that very well.

  152. Cooler, so would you advise someone with excellent grades and a great MCAT score to avoid applying to medical school, or do you still expect in the future that success in an US allopathic school and on the boards pretty much guarantees being matched in internal medicine? Also, just out of curiosity, do you have a MD or DO? Thanks for your posts - very informative.

  153. If this blog MUST stay in boring Medical School Land, please read the following. And this is what I mean when I say that Student Loans were and still are morally ingrained in the US culture.

    How short our collective memories are.

    "Northern Exposure: Season 01 (1990)

    Northern Exposure made its first appearance as an eight-week Thursday-night "tryout" on CBS in the late summer of 1990. With swift, sure strokes, the series' producers quickly established that 27-year-old Dr. Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow), freshly graduated from Columbia University Medical School, was required to spend four years working in Anchorage, AK, to pay off 125,000 dollars in student loans."


    I remember a scene from the rather Liberal Northern Exposure television show that had an older Alaskan guy bawling out the young Dr in a boat, and it had something to do with the young Dr's moral obligation to his student loans and I think I even remember (could be wrong) the scenes dialogue included the notion that the paid off loans being available funds for other students of higher ed.

  154. Cooler, I do not think gastro is threat free. In fact the technology could change quickly so gastro becomes obsolete. What I do think is that if you have a primary care skill and a specialty that is in demand, that you have a good chance at survival and a decent life as a doctor. And no, I am neither a med student or a doctor. The story I am telling is based on a real life person though who is very happily making a living.

  155. @3:30-- That is the flaw of using the billable hours model to unpack professors' compensation. It is doubtful that individual salaries have gone up as fast as tuition has gone up in the past decade. Faculties have grown larger. What is happening now is that some schools are holding the line on new hires, although the websites abound with announcements of schools that are hiring.

  156. 3:51 PM.
    I would advise the student you describe to make an informed decision based on the following:
    1. An MD or DO degree is no longer a ticket to an automatic or stable job and will become increasingly less so in the future.
    2. All primary care docs (General IM, FP, Peds) will face increasing encroachement from the barbarian hordes of NPs and PAs that are being churned out at record levels due to rampant expansion of NP and PA programs. Income and job prospects for primary care physicians will suffer and will certainly decline in real terms.
    3. Certain specialties are in terminal decline particularly anesthesiology due to competition from CRNAs, pathology due to rampant oversupply, and nuclear medicine due to rampant oversupply.
    4. Competition for residency positions will become increasingly fierce, especially for non-primary care specialties due to relatively static residency spots and increasing med school enrollments.
    5. It is now essential for a med student to get above average board exam scores and have above average class rank to be competitive for residency spots.
    6. Increasing numbers of students will not match into residency, particularly lower ranked students with inferior board exam scores.
    7. Students who are unable to obtain residency are essentially unable to work as physicians and will be highly indebted employees at places like Starbucks, etc.
    8. Med schools will continue to increase tuition as long as the government is willing to give out loans without limits or caps.
    9. Physician reimbursement will be cut or frozen as Medicare costs spiral leading to significant real loss of income.
    10. Physicians are not union members and must typically save for their own retirements unlike police, firemen, teachers, etc. who get defined benefit pensions.
    11. Hamster medicine in rampant in all fields of medicine and will only get worse, see:
    12. There is no real shortage of physicians overall. There is an uneven distribution. In high income areas with plenty of well insured patients you will find physicians tripping over each other. In low income and rural areas where almost every patient is Medicaid, Medicare, or uninsured you will find few docs since it is extremely difficult for docs to make a living and repay their loans in these poorly reimbursed locales.

    If a student understands the risks and has their eyes open then it is up to him/her to decide based on the facts of today and not the fantasy world many parents have about medicine based on the golden age of the 1960s-1980s when a doc could easily just hang up a shingle and watch the money roll in. The world has totally and completely changed.

  157. @3:30PM

    I have not got the remotest ****ing clue where all the money goes that law schools collect in tuition. It actually makes very little sense that a law school can charge $1200-$1800 per credit hour - and every way I try to back out the numbers it still does not make sense. Law professors are overpaid - yes - but they are paid less than say a BigLaw partner and yet their effective billable rate is a multiple - up to say 5 times what a BigLaw partner charges. Law schools have overhead, but most law school facilities are in fact paid for (at least at T1) by endowments and donations and do not lease for what Class 1 office space leases for.

    I threw the numbers out there because I though it was a useful metric - but how the **** law schools are spending so much money actually mystifies me. It is not like law firms are paragons of efficiency when it comes to overhead and yet they can run on the basic 1/3 model - 1/3 overhead, 1/3 salaries, 1/3 profits - and they are "for profit" - law schools are non-profits with all the tax advantages. That a 1L section in a core subject costs $600,000 to teach - 4 hours a week for 15 weeks with say another 180 hours of exam correcting and non-classroom student interaction is astonishing - and I really find it terribly hard to work out why.

    I know I ragged the jackass on his issue that law professors salaries are not tied to private firm compensation - he was just being stupid - but even so, given what professors are paid - where the **** does so much money evaporate? Are law school cost controls that bad?

  158. MacK, I've thought a little more about the billable rate idea and I don't think it works for law schools. Before I explain why, let me say up front that law schools charge too much and professors are paid too much--way too much on both counts. That's the whole point of this blog. But here are some problems I see with the billable rate calculation as a particular angle on this:

    First, although a law firm that bills by partner hourly rate will incorporate a fair amount of overhead into that rate, it will also charge clients for some items separately. This probably varies by practice area and region, but I have seen bills that charge separately for phone calls, copying, and conference rooms. If a paralegal works on the case, that person's time will be charged separately. Ditto for a court reporter, media advisor (if the client needs to talk to the press), etc. So the partner's hourly time isn't the only thing billed to the client.

    Law schools charge an all-inclusive fee. We don't have paralegals and court reporters, but we have career counselors, librarians, IT people who help students with computer problems, registrars, academic deans to approve special requests (e.g., exam change), people who translate materials for disabled students, etc. It's amusing to think of an a-la-carte law school in which students could choose when and whether to pay for any of those services, but we don't do it that way right now.

    Students consume services other than professor time within the school, and we don't bill separately for that time right now. So if you want to pursue the hourly billing rate analogy, you've first got to deduct the portion of tuition that's paying for other some of these other services.

    More important, but that's for the next comment....

  159. DJM-
    You might find it interesting that I required the students in my law practice management class hypothetical law firms to bill me for their time spent in the course. It was very interesting to read the bills and the way the students put them together.

  160. Thanks, DJM. The comparison does not work well. It's fine (and can be fun) to engage in those kinds of exercises, but they don't give you really useful answers for the current moment because the substance and aims of professions are different. That could change. But we were, I thought, talking about the world as it exists now.

  161. DJM-

    Part of my work includes looking at other law firms' bills and dealing with the issues that arise. You may think that unbundling was something the airlines discovered, but law firms discovered it a decade earlier - using paralegals for the work that legal secretaries used to do (as one crusty partner explained to me though, "we have paralegals because all the damn women who used to be secretaries went to law school.")

    But in my limited experience of one law school, Georgetown discovered unbundling a decade earlier - which was why the classes of 1990, 91 and 92 wore NOPE (Not a Penny Ever) pins at graduation.

    Law firms have overhead, it runs typically about 1/3 of revenue - secretaries, paralegals, rent, OCI, Martindale, law books, computers, business development (when that law firm partner you know pays for lunch), etc.

    I do recognised that in comparing private practice lawyers with law professors you are comparing different species of fruit - but not apples with oranges, more oranges with lemons - both citrus. I think it is a useful metric to compare the reasonably attributable hourly rate for a law professor with lawyers in the general area of the law school. As I just said in an earlier posting, how law schools manage to burn through so much revenue is to me a bit of a mystery.

    It is not a total mystery because, in a history I recount from time to time, in the summer of 1990 Judith Areen hosted a national conference of law school deans. At that time Georgetown law's building was a dreary modernist bunker on the Hill (the bunker is still there, gussied up under facades) with the worlds larges homeless shelter (the CCNV) nearby (later Mitch Snyder hung himself with a note pinned to his cheat to his girlfriend stating that it was "all your fault.") Anyway, Areen decided that she needed to make the place less dreary and had florists put arrangements around the place. A student working in administration leaked the bill - it was over $14,000 - more than a year's tuition at the time at Georgetown law.

    I have out of curiosity looked at the accounts of a few law schools, and you need to know that I do look at accounts professionally - law schools are uniformly mysterious. And that is why I think the comparison with lawyers hourly rates matters - because it leads you to ask why? Where does so much money go? The library building is donated, the books heavily discounted, the Westlaw and Lexis is essentially free, the main building is also usually donated, there is no professional liability insurance, the students get charges to fart, let alone for lunch ... where does so much revenue go?

    I know your issue about helping handicapped students - but that is not such a huge amount of money (and I read law books to tape when I was in law school for blind students - and before anyone accused me of altruism, I learned a lot of law doing it.)

    I am very nervous when it comes to spending client money - I spend time looking for hotel deals, I look for discounts even when it is not my money (but before anyone accuses me of altruism remember what the client pays the Four Seasons is money they don't have to pay me), and I am always worried that someone will accuse me of spending money for a purpose that does not benefit my client or in the past my employer (I was taught to not spend client money in a way that you would not yourself spend your own - if you would baulk at an expense, don't do it to a client.) Law schools do not seem to be that way - they seem to spend money like the proverbial "drunker sailor."

    Clients spend my time daily - and I forget to bill it. They call me when I'm walking, buying groceries, cooking - and I don't want to open the time app on my phone. For most lawyers there is a host of stuff we don't charge for - so saying that law schools don't charge for somethings misses the fact that lawyers don't either. Hell, I have worked 16 hours this weekend - and I probably won't bill more than 5-6.

  162. Here's a bit more on the billing analogy for law professors. First, I'm going to assume a 16-week semester, which I think is common: that's 14 weeks of teaching and 2 weeks of exam period.

    Within that timeframe, the average professor easily spends 3 hours of student-related "office" time for every classroom hour taught. Some will spend less (although it's hard to get by with less than 2) and others will spend more. I can give more detail in another comment about how the hours mount up to an average of 3:1, but MacK was willing to accept that as an outer limit so let's go with it for now.

    The big glitch in the original calculation (and one reason why tuition has climbed) is the size of classes taught. Sure, GWU teaches most of its first-year classes for full-time students in sections of 96. But, like most schools, the 1Ls have at least one doctrinal "small section" of 35. And they probably also have legal writing taught in sections of about 20.

    In the upperlevel, most courses today are relatively small. You can see the GWU figures here: For GWU last year, 320 of their upperlevel courses (not including seminars) had enrollments of less than 25. Only 22 had 100 students or more.

    Taking a fairly informed guess, I would estimate that the "average" law school class has 30 students. That may, in fact, be high. I did that calculation at OSU a few years ago, and I think the number was 25.

    So let's take those figures and apply them to a single credit hour. If GWU charges $1608.50 per credit hour, and courses on average enroll 30 people, then the average billing rate per credit is (1680.50 x 30) divided by 4 (for the 3:1 ratio), and then divided by 16 weeks of the semester, for an average "billing rate" of $753.98.

    Of course, that assumes the students pay for nothing but professor services--and it also assumes a student who is paying list price at a pretty expensive school. Hold on, I'm going to calculate my personal billing rate!

  163. MacK, any law school with a clinic has to pay professional liability insurance. The buildings are not donated: I worked personally on fundraising for a building at OSU (not the law school). We gave up before we had raised half the construction cost. Once the buildings are built, they have to be maintained--the total cost of light, heat, water, cleaning, repairs, etc. probably is similar to renting similar square footage of office space. I had numbers on that a few years ago, because the unit I directed often had to weigh going with space on campus versus off campus.

    And I'm not sure where you get the idea that the books in the library and clinic are heavily discounted. We get some books free, but for many types of books libraries pay more than individual purchasers--the library rate is designed to include the fact that multiple users will have access to the material.

    The high cost of law school tuition today comes from three factors: many more specialized courses, much more time/money supporting faculty research, and more support services for students. There's a lot of room, I think, to cut in each of those areas. (And I would also cut significantly on library books, although that's a traditional expense rather than a new one.) There's also the "pseudo tuition"--the fact that we raise our list prices and then discount according to LSAT score. This is tremendously harmful in all sorts of ways. Eliminating it wouldn't lower the overall "real" cost of tuition, but it's something we really have to do with for all sorts of reasons.

  164. OK, here it is: My personal billing rate. OSU Law will charge Ohio residents $27,886 during the coming year. Students vary in how many credits they take (we charge a flat tuition), but we require 88 credits for graduation, so let's assume 29.33 per year. So that's a list price of $950.77 per credit hour. I'll give myself the 3:1 ratio, although I think I probably devote more hours than average to student/teaching time. But at that ratio, my billing rate for each of the clinics I teach (4 credit hours x 8 students, because I co-teach a section of 16 with another professor) is: $118.85.

    But I'll make it up a little in Evidence, where I'll teach at least 80. In that class, my billing rate is a much more respectable $1188.46.

    Except...our students don't really pay sticker price. Our average "real" tuition (total tuition actually paid divided by total students) is about $18,500. At that number, my billing rate for the clinic is a rather sad $78.84. In Evidence, I'll get it up to $788.44.

    I don't think this is the way to demonstrate that law school tuition is too high. It clearly is, but we need some different thought experiments.

  165. Yes, we do. Thank you.

  166. The thing about doctors is that in urban areas with tons of well credentialed doctors and tons of well insured patients having insurance to cover the fees of those well credentialed doctors, no one is going to see an NP or PA rather than a doctor. The only time I have heard of someone using a non-doctor is a nurse midwife for childbirth. On the other hand, a larger medical group will be able to assign some tasks to a NP or PA that might be done by a doctor in a small practice. The threat to the medical profession is nothing like what has already happened in law. We have double the number of grads as there are jobs and up or out policies that put some of our best and brightest out of gainful employment very early in their careers. I just do not believe that the jobs of MDs are threateded by NPs. I do think in the field of psychiatry, psychiatrists have a lot of competition from non-MDs.

  167. DJM -

    I find your numbers interesting. The billing rate you came up with $754 per hour (rounded) is a pretty high rate for even NYC, DC or San Francisco (and there is a difference between rack rate and charged rate) - it is pretty well top-top for charged rate. In a law firm some $4-500 of that would be overhead and profit (and when a partner can charge north of $800 per hour (which is $750 made good at least) that partner keeps most of the profit, plus some of the origination too.)

    Speaking as a semi-private lawyer - someone who was in-house biggish departments, i.e., 16-30 T20 graduates or equivalent on 3 continents, or in private 5-25 major litigation matters per year managed (some as direct counsel) and a pile of transactions, the numbers for law schools do not "add up." I cannot fathom the revenue that GW makes for a single 1L course - let alone 5 of them - and even at class sizes of say 25 they don't make sense.

    Now, I am not being entirely honest - I have dealt with "blank check" situations after the fact, i.e., situations where the bills were not been read and the associates engaged in a billing frenzy once the word got out that would make sharks with blood in the water sound like a Marian sodality at high tea. Even when associates with loan debt and a firing gun to their head were billing on the dumbest clients and it was Q.... or W...., I have not seen anything quite as crazy as what law schools allow client money to be spent on.

    I do regard law professors as overpaid, but if they are compared to their peers billing $800+ per hour, they have a crap deal.

    Where the **** is the tuition going?

    MacK (switched computers again)

  168. If anyone wonders why I switch computers and keyboards - it is our office osteopath/chiropractor (across the street) who informed us, backed up by our doctors, that the reason that my partners and I (or at least a few of us) had chronic neck problems was from lap-top lugging and typing, which now means that a few of us run multiple machines - the cure being desktops and laptops only when essential. I still cannot really feel my little finger plus one on each hand, but I have to switch between 3-4 keyboard layouts - my neck hurts less though and I have some sensation somewhere that I lacked before, but maybe I'm more of a dick!


  169. There are still people on tls who think that there are stable careers in being a public defender if you are willing to go to rural areas.

    I can't post on tls anymore. I strongly believe at least half of the people should not go at all. I don't know how to convince them.

  170. Cooler, what brought you to this blog?

  171. 9:39 PM, I like this blog because I can read it to follow the implosion of law schools and thereby get a glimpse into the future as med schools are heading down the same path. I think it is a foregone conclusion that multiple law schools will close although I have no idea which ones. I am currently working at a med school and will not be retired by the time a similar crash hits the med schools.

  172. MacK et al. - All the talk about allopathic medical schools versus osteopathic medical schools and the merits of the M.D. degree over the D.O. brings up a possible partial solution to the current crisis. The problem is the explosion of new and often for profit diploma mills and the ever larger number of existing law schools whose graduates have almost no chance for a career in the legal profession. Why not make a differentiation like the med schools do? All of the 4th tier schools, the Cooleys, Thomas Jeffersons, Tuoro, Phoenix, Golden Gate and such would be required to give a LL.B. rather than a J.D. Also any new school would be required to give LL.B.s only, until such time as they had demonstrated academic competence and the ability to place a decent number of their graduates in real long term legal employment. Having to explain to their potential applicants why they only granted a lesser degree, would go a long way to cutting off their now limitless supply of student loan fueled lemmings. William Ockham

  173. Law prof : perhaps a good way to get people to understand hiring figures is to get them to count the SA spots. People in tls are suddenly shocked and scared when they read the largest SA class in Atlanta is 20. A major firm there - troutman just deferred its starting class til march.

    People should go on nalp for their market and add up the total number of jobs .

    It is an eye opener

  174. The farmer and the cowman should be friends.
    Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends.
    One man likes to push a plough, the other likes to chase a cow,
    But that's no reason why they cain't 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.

  175. @5:42AM


    I'd like to say a word for the farmer,
    He come out west and made a lot of changes
    He come out west and built a lot of fences,
    And built 'em right acrost our cattle ranges.

  176. ^^^

    Now Listen up:

    The farmer is a good and thrifty citizen, no matter what the cowman says of things.
    You seldom see 'em drinkin' in a bar room
    Unless somebody else is buyin drinks.

  177. ^^^^ Cheez! Relax you two!

    Bum diddy bum diddy bum--

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

  178. @DJM "The high cost of law school tuition today comes from three factors: many more specialized courses, much more time/money supporting faculty research, and more support services for students."

    Respectfully, this explains how the money is being spent, not why the cost is what it is. The cost is explained by the federal government's removal of downward pressure on prices. If the feds stopped skewing the market, the cost of law school would go down substantially, no matter how badly people wanted specialized courses, faculty research, and support services.

    (Also, I love the Oklahoma lyrics, whoever's been posting them.)

  179. 6:20 a.m., I agree entirely and have posted on that before. There's also the effect of serving as a gatekeeper to a restricted profession (i.e., you must have a JD to sit for the bar in most states). I was just trying to answer MacK's question about where specifically the money goes these days. I don't expect you or others to keep up with all of the posts or views, so will specifically affirm the impact of federal loan money! In fact, you'll be seeing a lot about federal loans in main posts this week.

  180. For this student focused on public-interest law, why doesn't he look into LRAP?

  181. Did this student serve in the military after college and accumulate savings/have a GI Bill benefit that way?

    Did this student work during law school? I worked 30-35 hours a week all three years (40+ during vacations and summers) at my T14 law school in order to graduate without significant debt. It's not easy, you're not supposed to do it, but you can if you really don't want debt.

    I want to be sympathetic, because cost increases have outstripped student/family resources, but I rarely see students these days doing the sorts of things to make ends meet we did as a matter of course 30-40 years ago.

  182. 30-40 years ago the ABA didn't have a rule telling 1L's (or full-time 2/3Ls) that they would be kicked out of school if they worked....and if a student was smart enough to realize that this rule would not be enforced, he'd probably not be going to law school in the first place.

  183. I surmise I have chosen an intelligent and mind blowing website with interesting material.

  184. DJM and MacK,

    You are both missing the point completely when it comes to law professors and trying to come up with a billable hourly rate based on tuition...its laughable. First off you and I may agree that most law professors are overpaid but they aren't. They wouldn't be getting the salaries they are getting and have been getting and will be getting if they were overpaid. Someone or some committee within their law school believes they are worth that salary and pays it, if everyone believed they were overpaid no law professor would be getting anywhere near what they are currently making.

    Also to compare law professor salaries with that of private practice attorney’s salaries or billable hours is comparing apples to oranges...they are two totally different animals. If law professors' salaries suddenly dropped dramatically, I bet you might only "lose" 5% of them to private practice, where they are be rightly compensated for their time and skills. This is because for 95% of law professors they CAN'T make it as top earners in private practice that is why they are professors instead, getting compensated to the highest level that they can for their skills. If law professors could get a better/higher compensation (compensation in this case includes all things that the job entails even things that aren’t monetary) somewhere else they would—at least the majority would because they would feel like the current position they are in isn’t fairly compensating them what they are worth.

    Also regarding the billing, there is no way you can even remotely come up with respectable or accurate billable hour number for a law professor. For one, law schools and institutions are not run like law firms, again apples to oranges. Also you have NO idea how much revenue from tuition the schools bring in. Not every student in the class size data that you have pulled off of a law school website is paying the full amount of tuition due to scholarships, discounts, etc that the school has as a tool to keep and attract students. Also VERY rarely are the buildings or halls donated. A school may get some of the costs for constructing a new building through donations but the rest comes from the school taking out a loan or floating some bonds (also a loan). Even if the school did get the building 100% donated they have to heat, light, maintain, clean, insure, etc their buildings which is a huge expense called overhead. Big law firms may appear to have large overhead due to the fact that many rent office space in the highest rent districts but they only use what they need. For example, my law firm doesn’t heat the office on the weekends--if you are going to be working over the weekend you have to put in a special request to have heat by the middle of the week and then a top equity partner will send you an email stating they will do it this time but don't ask again because they are tired of spending their marketing budget on heat. Law schools don't have a choice about some resources, they have to have buildings open, lite, and heated even though maybe not a single student may never step foot in them that day. Also in some states even if you are a nonprofit you still must pay property taxes. So law schools have

  185. Here is the rest:

    many high fixed costs of maintaining and running a campus that will be there no matter how many or how few students they have. Law schools have costs to maintain and insure their parking garages and lots, which are the same no matter how many students are enrolled. Law firms can fairly easily shed overhead costs when their billable hours are going to decrease by laying off attorneys (and yes I realize law schools can lay off staff) but law firms can even get rid of office space by renting less leaving the property management company to find a new tenant(s) for that now unused space. Even if a law school had a 50% decline in tuition it can shed overhead costs like most law firms can.

    Also you have no idea if the law school is actually magically going through all the cash their bring in or if they are stashing some of it away for a rainy day. Just because they may be bringing in lots of money per years doesn’t mean they are spending all of it.

    Law schools in general may be a scam or a bad investment or all the other things this blog seems to point them out as being but there seems to be no shortage of people who are willing to pay or take out loans to pay for law school. Nothing will change and tuition will continue to rise as long as there are students willing and able to pay it. If, for the next school year, you had every law school student hopeful refuse to enroll in law schools across the country due to their perception that current tuition charges were too expensive, then magically law schools would be forced to lower their tuition rates and/or offer very generous scholarships, which effectively lower tuition rates. I believe if this were to happen that many schools would be just fine and still offer the same quality legal education at a lower tuition rate but you would have some law schools that would be forced to close their doors and liquidate due to having too high of overhead and not being able to lower their tuition rates enough to attract students. At some point there will be a market correction, either because of students collectively refusing to pay extremely high tuition leaving law schools with no tuition revenues or Congress reforming graduate student loan programs, which would greatly hinder the amount of money students could borrow to transfer to their law school.

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