December 06, 2013
Iowa Regents Mandate 16.4% cut in law school tuition for Iowa residents...
...though with no indication how the law school is supposed to make up the lost revenue, apart from hand-waving about increased enrollment. In-state tuition at Iowa was already quite low (about 25K per year). What a mess.
December 05, 2013
More on when law school graduates and jobs will be in equilibrium: 2018 or 2019 it is
A further analysis here, which incorporates the important point that 100% employment has never been the norm, even during peak employment times. The earlier estimates had all assumed that, even though some number of law school graduates do not seek employment. Given current trends in enrollments, and BLS and NALP data, the number of law graduates seeking employment and the number of avalable jobs will match by 2018 or, at the latest, 2019 (i.e., the classes starting in fall 2015 or, at the latest, fall 2016).
Rutgers-Camden Law School sanctioned by ABA for admitting a small percentage of students who had not taken the LSAT...
...but had taken the GMAT or GRE. Curious.
On "JD Advantage" jobs
Yes, they are real jobs (and more). (Professor Merritt, in response to Professor Young's earlier posting, pointed to one survey that showed that more than 40% of those with JD Advantage jobs were seeking other jobs--but without knowing how many of those with JD-required jobs are also seeking other jobs, it's impossible to know what this means, if anything, about the jobs.)
December 04, 2013
Sheppard on Tamanaha on law schools
Another critical take.
December 01, 2013
Culpability for the "Blue Book"?
Blame Yale! (Scroll down to the second letter.)
November 27, 2013
Big discounts for Pennsylvania residents at Penn State's Dickinson School of Law
Another sign of the times.
November 25, 2013
Benjamin Winterhalter, opportunistic liar of the day...or why law school is obviously not a "scam"
Salon must really be desperate to post this content-free piece, which takes as its question, "How...can we explain the fact that young people are still going to law school in droves?" when, in fact, applications to law school are down nearly 40%, and most law schools in the United States are experiencing varying degrees of financial stress as a result (not "raking in cash"). But never mind the facts, little Mr. Winterhalter wants to deliver his sermon: "Why aren’t law schools ashamed of themselves?" Well, because most of them didn't do anything shameful, that's why. Almost all the graduates of accredited law schools passed the bar exam, and the only actual evidence on offer makes clear that the JD was a winning financial proposition for the vast majority. There's no shame in teaching the vast majority of students to pass the bar and enabling them to enjoy substantial financial returns on their education. (There should be shame in being an opportunistic liar like Mr. Winterhalter, who calculated, obviously correctly, that he could capitalize on the current hysteria to get a fact-free smear piece into Salon! I will let pass in silence his juvenile discussion of economic analysis of law.)
It is time for a little reality-check, even in cyberspace. In 2008, the global capitalist system suffered a severe recession or depression, which soon spread to the legal sector, exacerbating trends affecting reduced demand for lawyers. Law schools did not cause that economic catastrophe. Beginning in 2011, Senators Boxer and Coburn began challenging the ABA about the accuracy of employment data reported by ABA-accredited law schools. This data was almost certainly massaged, due to the malign and longstanding influence of U.S. News (as I noted a decade ago!). Annoyed U.S. Senators, unsurprisingly, caught the attention of the ABA, and soon enough, the ABA mandated improved employment data reporting, thus making clear how poorly graduates of some law schools were faring during the recession. Around the same time, David Segal, a journalist who had never before covered law, began writing a series of front-page stories in The New York Times about the collapse of the job market for new lawyers, as well as producing unrelated hatchet jobs on legal education.
In the wake of all this, applications to and enrollments in law schools, unsurprisingly, entered a steep decline. Law schools began reducing tuition and cutting faculty. But in cyberspace, a different set of events, only partly related to the preceding, began to unfold. The global recession took its toll on recent law graduates, like so many others. Some of the victims took to the Internet, enacting Nietzsche's observation more than a century ago that,
Every sufferer instinctively looks for a cause of its distress, more exactly, for a culprit, even more precisely for a guilty culprit who is receptive to dsitress--in short, for a living being upon whom he can release his emotions, actually or in effigy, on some pretext or other; because the release of emotions is the greatest attempt at relief, or should I say, anaestheticizing on the part of the sufferer. [Cf. Barash & Lipton, Payback (Oxford, 2011) for empirical evidence in support of the Nietzschean hypothesis.]
There was, undboutedly, considerable suffering by lawyers and new law graduates--jobs lost, careers thwarted, huge debts looming and undischargeable in bankruptcy. In cyberspace, some of those suffering--as well as some muddle-headed law professors and opportunistic charlatans-- identified a "guilty culprit": it was law schools. Thus was born the bizarre meme that law school was a 'scam.' (Mr. Winterhalter is a late arrival to the meme.) Although U.S. law schools had for decades successfully trained most graduates to pass the bar and become lawyers, this no longer mattered. Massaging employment data to game U.S. News rankings was now portrayed as a concerted and sinister attempt to fraudulently induce students to come to law school who otherwise never would have dreamed of doing so. Indeed, lawsuits by victims of this alleged "scam" were soon filed around the country, but courts have uniformly repudiated their theory about the culprits, noting the obvious "elephant in the room," i.e., the global recession of 2008. The law professors who taught the plaintiffs apparently well enough to pass the bar were clearly not responsible for lack of jobs--how could they be? Some law schools still face possible liability, and perhaps rightly so: there are 200 accredited law schools in the country, and some may have acted unethically and perhaps illegally. But law schools are not culpable for the economic catastrophe of the last five years, and the vast, vast majority did not defraud or scam anyone. This much is obvious to the courts, indeed, to anyone awake.
The sensible response to an economic catastrophe, both inside and outside the legal profession, has turned into an utterly irrational attempt by the misguided or the malevolent to find "guilty culprits" to blame for miserable circumstances. Mr. Winterhalter is just the latest manifestation of this irrational response, but cyber-ranting like his still proliferates in which law schools, judges, lawyers, law faculty, and anyone who resists the herd mentality of the deranged scam-bloggers are disparaged, demeaned and defamed without regard for the facts and without any actual evidence of wrongdoing.
November 21, 2013
We are on track for there to be more new jobs for lawyers than there are new law school graduates...
...by 2016 or 2017. Hopefully this will help some of those currently unemployed, but it is also probably quite good news for those starting law school now or next year. (I commend Professor Young for taking the time to run the numbers, which in the current toxic cyber-environment where facts are never welcome [recall the irrational reception in cyberspace of the Simkovic & McIntyre study, even though it completely altered the terms of debate in the real world], requires considerable courage. I also commend to the attention of readers Professor Young's profiles of graduates of the Appalachian School of Law, a nice snapshot of the important role legal education plays in communities throughout the nation.)
UPDATE: Deborah Merritt (Ohio State) takes issue with some of the numbers. For reasons that are unclear, she also discounts "JD Advantage" jobs. Whereas Professor Young generally made optimistic assumptions given the available data, Professor Merritt makes pessimistic assumptions on the same data, though far as I can see, the available evidence is neutral as between them.
November 20, 2013
More on the dental school analogy...
...from the WSJ law blog, including an interesting little quiz.
UPDATE: A colleague elsewhere writes, regarding some of the earlier quotes about dental schools in the WSJ item:
Of course, none of the quotes were:
“Dentals schools are just trying to steal money from their students”
“Dental professors are useless and lack any relevance in the real world”
“Dental professors don’t teach students how to be dentists”
A marked difference from today [in the case of law schools].
I guess dental schools back then lacked charlatans and opportunists to fan the flames of misplaced resentment. (This professor asked not to be identified since, as he put it, "ordinarily I don't mind commenting publicly, but this is one area where I'd prefer not--I don't need the hassle from the haters," adding that the "squelching of dissent is remarkable," which is no doubt true (vide yesterday's post about on-line harassment). After years of on-line harassment, I, fortunately, am indifferent to it!