A great deal has happened over the past ten months. This post is an update on developments, and an opportunity for members of the old ITLSS community to touch base with each other, and to perhaps learn of other venues where the conversation continues.
(1) As word regarding the employment situation for new and not so new law graduates percolates down into the general cultural conversation, law school enrollments and applications continue to decline sharply. 39,675 students matriculated at ABA schools this fall -- a 24.4% decline since 2010, and the lowest total since 1975, when there were 40 fewer law schools.
(2) Application totals continue to fall faster than law school enrollments. Preliminary numbers suggest that around 51,000 people will apply to law school in this cycle, which in turn is likely to produce another 10-12% decline in enrollments next fall. Even if enrollment numbers level out over the next couple of years, ABA law schools are about to face a world in which they will have 95,000 to 100,000 JD students enrolled at one time, as opposed to nearly 150,000 in 2010-11.
(3) Most law schools now appear to be losing money, and law school budgets almost everywhere will undergo even more severe stress as the entering classes of 2011 and 2012 are replaced by much smaller cohorts over the next two to three years.
(4) The stress on budgets is a product not just of declining enrollment, but also of what at many schools is declining per capita real net tuition. A few schools have actually started to slash nominal tuition, and many others have increased "scholarships" (tuition discounts) to such a degree that they are charging lower tuition in real terms (discount and inflation adjusted) than they were two years ago. The combination of declining enrollment and stagnant or declining per capita real tuition has created formal and de facto hiring freezes at many schools. Entry-level hiring this year seems likely to be at around one third to one half of pre-enlightenment levels.
(5) Although schools are going to extraordinary measures to disguise the fact, faculty layoffs have taken place at several places, in the form of offer you can't refuse "buyouts." Staff firings are commonplace. It remains difficult to say when and if an ABA school will actually close, but expect to see some schools merge (constructive closures), and a couple of others spin off separate campuses into independent entities which will be allowed to disappear by their central administrations.
Beyond these specific developments, it's fair to say that the general atmosphere in legal academia is radically different than it was three years ago. Back then, the crisis was invisible, because it was only affecting our graduates, which meant there were an almost unlimited number of rationalizations available for denying its existence. (It's a few malcontents, it's the recession, law degrees are versatile, network! etc. etc.). As always, we are all strong enough to bear other men's misfortunes, but to cut one's own finger is a different matter.
In short, consciousness has been raised, and continues to be raised. For those who may have missed it, here are two new sites that are doing some fine work:
Outside the Law School Scam
Law School Truth Center
For a dire but compelling glimpse into how much work remains to be done, see:
Law School Lemmings
Older sites everyone should read regularly include, but are not limited to, Law School Tuition Bubble, Law School Cafe, Third Tier Reality, and JD Underground.
I'll continue to write on these issues at Lawyers, Guns & Money, and elsewhere. See you around.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
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Yes! He's back!ReplyDelete
I thought you were going to say "first"ReplyDelete
What about the war on scambloggers:ReplyDelete
You mean: feminist tax and spend "Liberals" living off the taxpayer backed student loans.Delete
8:23 am: That's a response to a different post by NL. This newest post claims she has filed an ethics complaint with the bar against dybbuk.Delete
I have a real problem with Leong filing a complaint. In her own words, she admits she has no idea whether dybbuk acts obnoxiously in real life or is just torking around anonymously. I get the fact that dybbuk is childish. I get the fact that jacking with her taht way can be offensive. But First Amendment issues are in play, and with no indication by her (as she admits to), she filed a complaint. She use eloquence to justify it as some "service" to society, but it is pretty evident she is just jacking back with him. Touche.Delete
I think that this woman is totally incapable of seeing the other side and she obviously cannot stand the fact that she is not in charge like she is in her classroom. How dare the peasants out there challenge her? They may be lonely or mentally ill, as she says, but she still can't stand to let them get away with it. Really, she is not unique among women. Many of them are very insecure that their looks opened doors for them rather than their abilities and intellect, and often because that is exactly why they got where they are. Women Lawyers . Women Judges are often time insufferable. We all know it. We just don't comment on it. And by the way, I have contacted this sight through an anonymizer so Nancy can't somehow get my true IP address and then turn me into the authorities for being anti-women. She have to go all over the world to get me :-)Delete
No question, there is blood in the water. One thing to keep in mind, the dramatic drop in entering 1L's is even more startling when you consider how far most schools have dropped admission standards. If law schools maintained their admission standards from a few years ago, the enrollment numbers would be much worse.ReplyDelete
Paul, you should check out some of the recent comments to the PrawfsBlawg "clearinghouse" thread on faculty hiring. People are complaining about how the low-six-figure starting salaries for entry level law professors should be higher because they aren't enough to pay off the massive debts people have accumulated from their own legal education. Quite an irony. As one commenter puts it, "I guess the law school scam got us too."ReplyDelete
It probably won't be much longer before law professors start jumping ship for biglaw.Delete
Without a book of business or the ability to get it, they will have problems. Law professors won't be able to hack big law.Delete
With less money to go around, maybe there will be more focus on serious legal teaching and scholarship instead of fluff.ReplyDelete
I posted a link to the Law School Lemmings site at LGM with the following comment:ReplyDelete
"Very very sad – the immaturity, the hubris and the lack of any thought, let alone knowledge, about job prospects or the damage non-dischargable debt can do is apparent in almost every tweet."
As Professor Campos says, much work remains to be done.
A Brave New And Surreal World.ReplyDelete
Do not read this hot off the presses article if you have ever been a student of the Humanities because it will just upset you.
Hope you continue to make occassional posts to this blog. On my end, I will continue to be strong enough to bear other men's misfortunes.ReplyDelete
Law School Lemmings is the best. can't even make those hilarious comments if i tried.ReplyDelete
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.ReplyDelete
We are currently in the fighting stage. I'm quite confident law schools are manning their guns to unleash a flurry of new propaganda. The new tactic seems to be to divorce law degrees from obtaining a legal career. The recent ridiculous "cultural cachet" argument is a tip of the cards for the next hand the legal education industry plans to play.
The Law Lemmings website shows how much further we have to go. The image of lawyers as affluent, successful, and smart has been pounded into the American psyche for decades and it will take a lot of work and continual and innovative effort by critics to counter the law school thieves.
The best thing that could happen now is a political movement to reintroduce market forces to the law school industry and the higher education industry in general. If student loan lenders had some skin in the game, things would look a lot different really fast. Conservatives don't want to fund lefty law school professors and liberals don't want to enrich the 1% (law deans & profs) at the expense of the 99%. This seems to be an easily winnable political issue that could galvanize the public. It would need to be carefully played in order to keep it bipartisan.
The scambloggers can take solace in the lower enrollment numbers but much work remains. Almost 40,000 students enrolled at law schools this fall. A very small percentage of these students will land jobs that will allow them to maintain a middle-class living.
Paul Campos and ITLSS: my nominee for Profiles in Courage award. You have saved many. Thanks.ReplyDelete
What about CNN Heroes?Delete
The battle for Helm's Deep is over. The battle for Middle Earth has just begun.ReplyDelete
"From the lowest doc review dungeon to the highest BigLaw boardroom I fought with the Leiterog of Maurice... Until at last, I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the pavement below... Darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought.. But it was not the end. I felt life in me again. I've been sent back until my task is done....Lawprof? Yes... that was what they used to call me. Lawprof the Grey. That was my name. *I* am Lawprof the White. And I come back to you now -- at the turn of the tide."Delete
^^ Awesome ^^Delete
An excellent and inspiring update. Successes in the fight to restore sanity to the legal education system is often incremental and thus rather unnoticeable, and it's easy for us all to lose hope at times because we can't see the direct results of our action. This post shows that these things take time, and more importantly that we're succeeding.ReplyDelete
As the year comes to a close, I appreciate the retrospective. We've all done some fine work this year, but 2014 needs to be stepped up. We need to punch again, hard, while the toilet law schools are staggering and dazed.
Remember, not one law school has closed yet. But we can change that if we continue to fight on all fronts.
Thank all of you for helping to turn the tide against the law school pigs. We are helping young people avoid a life of indentured servitude, while the jackals can only muster a faint "Now is a good time to go to law school."ReplyDelete
Let's keep the pigs' hooves and ass to the fire!
This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. But it is the end of the beginning.ReplyDelete
hey, boss, good to see ya back! You still kicking ass? Looks like it. The scam is taking a beating, eh, what?ReplyDelete
LawProf, you are a God among men. Thanks for all of your great work.ReplyDelete
"One of the more controversial new proposals, to be introduced by Reed, would require colleges with high student loan default rates to pay a penalty to the government that is proportional to the defaulted debt."
Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/12/20/senate-democrats-launch-new-push-student-loan-debt-college-accountability#ixzz2o1Fga5LD
Inside Higher Ed
Wisconsin just released a damning report about the state of entry-level job market.ReplyDelete
Any other states working on similar reports?
Still a lot of mystery.ReplyDelete
We all know that the total outstanding student loan debt is 1.1 trillion or so.
But is there a figure for the amount of current outstanding debt from law school?
Surely there are public databases that can compile that number and which should be available to the taxpayers/public.
If Senator Reed is eventually successful, you can bet there will be a lot of scrutiny of University Financial aid offices and the default rates of the graduates.
In other news of what's happened in the past 10 months, also is the 'Aduren' incident. While Leiter seems to have deleted his March 2 post, which contains his 'non-denial denial' from his archive, it is, of course, saved on the Wayback Machine: http://web.archive.org/web/20130328061916/http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/ReplyDelete
You don't need Wayback Machine, it's right here: http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2013/03/we-get-mail-thomas-r-grover-esq-edition.htmlDelete
Congratulations, anonymous bloggers! Thousands of students have probably avoided a major debt trap because of your work.ReplyDelete
When you think about the student loan (taxpayer) money that's been funneled to these law profs over the past 15 years, it's staggering. What has society gained from all that expense? I don't think anything remotely productive has been done with that money. It's just been wasted. Money that could have gone to any number of worthy causes. Sad.