Archive for July 9, 2010

More Law Schools See Surge in Law School Applications

On July 6, 2010 Life’s Mockery reported that UMass Law School had a surge in law school applications: https://lifesmockery.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/in-the-news-a-new-unaccredited-law-school-has-surge-in-applications-enrollment/ Well, the madness hasn’t ceased, the operative words are more and surge, sounds like legal-industry-gluttony at this point. Today the National Law Journal reports: (False) Hope drives rise in law school applications 

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Hope drives rise in law school applications: Despite grim job statistics in nearly every corner of the legal world, law school applications increased by 7% over last year.

 The grim job statistics in nearly every corner of the legal world are surely enough to make any aspiring lawyer think twice about diving into massive debt to attend law school. [emphasis mine]. Apparently not for many, hopefully for others. Even with this frank start to the article, people are so desparate as to believe that obligating themselves into more debt will resolve their personal financial woes in this turbulent economy. Does this make sense? No.

“How much do applicants know about the contraction of jobs in the legal industry? It’s hard to say,” said Brian Tamanaha, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law who has urged law schools to provide more accurate information about graduate employment. “People could be thinking, ‘Well, in a few years things will change.’ I think we’re seeing a structural change in the industry. Even if things do come back, it won’t be to the same degree we saw just a few years ago.” My word, we bloggers have been saying this for a while, but I guess it’s considered speculation unless a professor says it. The legal industry is forever changed, there are IVY leaguers who cannot even find decent paying jobs, work is outsourced overseas, student loan debt, $40,000-$50,000 average attorney pay, do not go to law school. O.k. I’m back.

“In a climate like this one, we’re seeing applicants who are conscientious shoppers looking to get the greatest value for their dollar,” said Aaron Latham, the interim director of law advancement at Alabama, which won the NCAA Bowl Championship Series football title last year.  Apparently they’re conscious in a parallel world to take on this type of debt in this contracting field, or they would not have decided to go to law school in the first place.

The idea of law school as “the great default” is hardly new. Law school has long been more attractive than business school or medical school to college graduates with vague career ambitions, Leipold said. He attributed that in part to the versatility of a law degree, which can translate into the corporate world, public policy or any number of other fields.  Of course not, but who continues to propagate that “you can do anything with a law degree” and prestige with it’ll work itself out. I will say that at this point it’s not all the legal industry faults, sure deans, professors, lawyers who graduated in prior generations are culpable but we have unwitting lay people who have this imagery no doubt fueled by the media and the entertainment industry of law being a fast-paced glamorous life with a fast track to financial success. One can see how bad it is when the article states that most 0Ls do not know the reality of the legal industry and therefore have no idea what they are getting themselves into.

However, the idea that law school is always a solid choice should be retired in light of the growing price of a legal education and the dimming jobs prospects, several critics said. He’s saying that idea does not hold true, step into the real world and there are no jobs. Drop out of law school while you can! Do you want to subject yourself to over $100,000 debt, putting off having a family, no available jobs, depression, psycho attorneys on projects who are mentally ill or became that way because of the mental-institution like environment encouraged by staff attorneys? (that’s if you get a contractual job). Or perhaps you will enjoy having a J.D. on your resume and being practially locked out of nearly every other field as being overqualified or your degree being to specialized or not considered a true doctorate where you won’t qualify for fellowships in the future unless, you guessed it you plan to go BACK to another graduate school after law school.

“People who haven’t done any investigation into what lawyers do are foolhardy to pursue law school,” said Zearfoss, the Michigan admissions dean. “Anyone using law school as a default should rethink that.” Oh my, I may have to take some of my previous words back, believe me this law school dean just called you a fool for attending law school at this point. The image of the bully Nelson pointing at you saying “ha-ha” popped in my head. No matter how raw the honesty, he doesn’t reflect the majority of law school academia, at least so far.

“In 15 years of teaching, I’ve known a lot of students who came here because they didn’t know what they wanted to do,” Tamanaha said. “A lot of this is about cyclical irrational decision-making. It’s based on a very human trait, which is overoptimism. For the people who have always wanted to be a lawyer, they should go to law school. For anyone else, it’s not a good decision.”

O.k., so you have been called a fool and irrational for attending law school, do not let your ego allow you to make likely one of the worst decisions in your life. 

“Just because you wish for something, doesn’t make it true.”  ●Disney’s The Princess and the Frog

Fleecing State Budgets From West to East Coast: Paying the Price for Law Schools’ New Campuses

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

This story first ‘broke’ October 29, 2008, with a series of concurrent press releases provided on the law school’s website here: New Campus Goes Live | Thomas Jefferson School of Law. This very first press release: states “We have the funds to complete this project,” Dean Hasl said to the cheers of the audience, acknowledging the turbulent financial climate.[Groundbreaking Story | Thomas Jefferson School of Law]. Interesting how the school decided just at the beginning of the current recession to move forward with plans to build the new campus for the law school. I am confident they do have the money–between state funds and their cut of student loan debt incurred by current and incoming law students.  Yesterday, a news magazine reported on the San Diego law school’s progress to schedule to open in 2011: [

Downtown’s New Law School | San Diego Metro Magazine July 6, 2010] and prior press releases attempts to excite the reader with archeological finds, the technological advanced construction of the building and an irrelevant statement regarding the school’s need to return to its roots:

While that question will require further examination, Rudy Hasl, dean of the 41-year-old law school since 2005, can say for certain that the new law school building — one of the newest structures in East Village — will offer state-of-the-art features that students will find fascinating when classes begin next January. These include a computer center, wireless access and audio video capabilities throughout the eight-story structure, expansive view terraces on the fifth and eighth floors and a roof that supports a 50 kilowatt solar array with 270 modules. The school is seeking LEED Gold certification for the building from the U.S. Green Building Council. Also included are two learning centers, a moot courtroom, two recording studios, five conference rooms, an executive board room and a 40,000-square-foot library with future space for a café, bookstore and a law clinic. Three levels of parking below the building will offer 177 parking spaces.

The Dean even brags about how his school is accredited. That’s a bragging right for a 4th tier school I guess.

Throughout most of these releases and articles, the speaker rarely mentions the benefit to potential law students and graduates and their potential to earn an income from this 4th Tier school [Rankings – Best Law Schools – Graduate Schools – Education – US News and World Report].

From what I have observed, it appears most institutions and companies do not invest in people. They invest in their institutions that are benefitted by people but will use them to the extent the bottom of the toothpast tube is flat, then toss. I often hear people say we need more engineers, but notice that alot of middle, high school and even some undergraduate universities do not invest in this quality education and training so our country becomes more reliant on non-Americans to improve our technologies. Of course, someone will argue that constructing a new building will help motivate new law students by giving them an enhanced educational environment. Yet, some of the most gifted and talented persons are from humble backgrounds, some of the most intelligent ones do not attend school and those who did, the focus was on gaining knowledge with the ability to tap into innovative ideas to improve their communities and economy. This was decades ago, now it seems that we have mistaken rennovation as innovation, that’s why the legal industry hasn’t changed with the times, but has worsened. Instead of taken cost-effective measures for law schools and law students, an elite few have decided that law school is a franchise. Anyway…

 Since these schools are state supported, I was curious as to the extent of state funds were granted to these fine institutions. Before we delve into this, let’s be reminded that according to a recent post at Above the Law, many recent law graduates are flooding government offices to volunteer for 2 available internships in one California county. [ ‘The Job Market Is Even Worse Than Many of Us Thought’ « Above the Law: A Legal Tabloid – News, Gossip, and Colorful Commentary on Law Firms and the Legal Profession]. That’s right, in one of the hardest hit states of the current economic recession, attorneys are flocking to work for free with nearly insurmountable debt has a  STATE funded school spending money on a pretty building, to match its shiny brochures.

When I was researching information concerning this one, I actually lost track of which law school I was researching, but here’s the list:

1. Stanford Law School
2. U.C. Berkeley – Boalt Hall
3. UCLA Law School
4. USC Law School
5. U. California Davis Law School (King Hall)
6. U. California Hastings Law School
7. U. of San Diego Law School
8. Loyola Law School
9. Santa Clara Law School
10. U. of San Francisco
11. Pepperdine Law School
12. U. of the Pacific (McGeorge)
13. Southwestern U. Law School
14. Chapman U. Law School
15. Whittier U. Law School
16. Golden Gate U. Law School
17. California Western Law School
18. Thomas Jefferson Law School

Earlier this year Thomas Jefferson School of Law breaks new ground, San Diego Law School was working to merge with California Western law school. (Let’s point out that according to one source, the Thomas Jefferson School of Law was simply a separate campus of California Western before it decided to become a separate entity). California Western is a for UCSD looking at a law school – SignOnSanDiego.com, January 28, 2010

Critics question whether the school could be self-supporting and whether there’s a mismatch between UCSD’s research focus and California Western’s emphasis on teaching. Some also doubt the need for such a school, considering there are already five UC law schools.

“I think this has more to do with the aspirations of the university than the people of San Diego saying there is a need for it,” said Patrick Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, an independent nonprofit based in San Jose. “If the argument is it eases faculty collaborations, what are the impediments for that collaboration now? The notion that you can’t collaborate unless you’re part of the same entity is absurd.” Even the head of the university disagrees with the law schools merger, though subtle: 

UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox has not taken a position on the partnership, but said the project would only move forward if it enhances legal research while not undermining other university investments. She said it’s important that no public funds be spent on the school, at least for the first several years.“I wouldn’t approve anything in these tight economic times that were not completely self-supporting for the foreseeable future,” Fox said.

It’s like different law schools contract and expands, grows legs and repeat. Let’s focus, who’s paying for this new shiny campus amidst one of California’s most hemmoraghing budget deficit. There is no clear indication where all of the funds are sourced. Since it’s a public law school we’ll have to presume the State of California paid for a certain amount and the rest from endowments and profits made from student loans.