Posts Tagged ‘0Ls’

Center for American Progress Report Entitled: What Can We Learn From Law School?

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For those considering law school, this is a good read, a summary report entitled: What Can We Learn From Law School (click title for pdf) December 2011 by the Center for American Progress. I highlighted some quotes:“This report explores the field of legal education with the hope that putting a magnifying glass to this small part of higher education will help us better understand the problems that face all colleges. (see sidebar) It details the steady rise in law school enrollment, despite high tuition rates and a heavy reliance on student loan debt. And it describes the unpleasant surprise that awaits law students upon graduation: Though a few lucky grads will make more than $130,000 per year, most new lawyers can expect annual salaries of around $63,000. With monthly loan payments near $1,000, graduates are finding that membership in the legal profession is not the golden ticket they thought it would be.”

 p. 7: The high demand for legal education is somewhat surprising given its hefty price tag.  It’s difficult to locate the cause of this steep rise in tuition. Though some have claimed that stringent accreditation requirements drive price, a 2009 GAO study showed that this assumption is incorrect.

So not only student enrollment screening has become more lax, so has ABA accreditation.

p. 9 On the whole, this low default rate does not seem like a big deal. But for the individuals who fall into the default category, it can have devastating effects. Federal student loans are not dischargeable through bankruptcy.

That University of Maryland student that filed for bankruptcy should have had access to this report before going to federal court.

p.13: Though the return on investment in law school has been in question for young graduates since at least 2008 and possibly even earlier, this news was not widely reported until recently. This may be due, in part, to the fact that statistics about the legal profession as a whole mask the circumstances that young lawyers face. Bureau of Labor Statistics data on the legal profession show that the growth in law jobs slowed over the past several years. In other words, law schools are able to admit large classes, maintain the same educational model, and continue to push tuition higher because students still turn out in droves for a chance to be in their entering classes.

Basically, as long as the 0L public continues to buy into it, the law schools will continue to rope you in. You have the power to stop this madness, stop buying into the law school degree can open so many doors and you can do anything with a JD. It is obviously not true. These people are laughing in your faces at this point. You are now willingly and openly proceeding towards a known danger.

To ensure students, colleges, and policymakers react to the forces that are changing the value of college degrees, the following policy changes should be implemented:

• The Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, should collect and publish average employment and salary data for recent entrants into an occupation. Would provide 0Ls reality of the legal market and what they’re getting into.

• The BLS should work in conjunction with the Department of Education to make this information available to prospective students. So 0Ls/general public are not duped by misleading and in some cases blatantly false statistics provided directly on the law schools’ websites who have obvious financial interest to skew data and currently no repurcussions to ensure accurate information.

• Accreditors in all sectors of higher education should create standard definitions for employment and salary statistics, and require member schools to make such information readily available to students. Accreditors should audit member schools’ adherence with these standards from time to time. Audit, compliance then the federal government can fine them, and they would lose money they hold so dear.

 The beginning of the report appeared to be slanted by providing the reader with the impression that although the legal industry is shrinking/worsening and the value of the JD degree is decreasing the legal education sector only accounts for a small amount of those enrolled in graduate degree programs. However, this report doesn’t provide any statistics to support that.  It is a good read for general summary which hints to the reader that law school, especially at this point of America’s development and economy is not a good investment, no matter how you play with the numbers.

USNWR: As Law School Tuitions Climb, So Does Demand

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On June 22, 2010, Life’s Mockery published a post concernining law school tuition increase:Law School Tuition Hikes, Economy Downturn, why are you still going? « Life’s Mockery.  U.S. News and World Reports have finally taken the time to discuss it, only to present it as only beneficial to the legal industry:  July 14, 2010-As Law School Tuitions Climb, So Does Demand – US News and World Report. The title alone suggests that because so many law students continue to apply, the law schools just have to increase tuition. 0Ls are causing the tuition to climb, not the agents of profit making and student debt–well that just clears it up. Some law schools have opened more seats and increased tuition. I will not fathom how this increases value, it only diminishes it. Overflooding a saturated legal market drives down salaries and demand. Increasing debts of individuals, though they made their own decisions to incur it, decreases an individual’s ‘net worth’ making it even more difficult to obtain credit, equity lines, mortgages (I know more debt) to purchase property as well as overall affecting one’s credit score to rent. This is inclusive of all forms of shelter, a basic necessity. This only increases the perceived value of debt and not the actual law degree itself. The law degree is just the agent by which the debt exists, increasing tuition does not correlate with increasing the value of the law degree.

Tuition has risen for the 2010-2011 school year at law schools across the country, even as industry jobs disappear by the month. The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows 3,900 jobs were cut from the legal sector in June alone, capping off a year of 22,200 job losses. I continue to try to make sense of this behavior. Even when some of these news article have smatterings of truth about the current state of affairs for the legal industry, 0Ls have been desparately convinced of going to law school. I think part of it is that one doesn’t comprehend the psychological and financial toll unless you’ve undergone it. It’s like when your mom told you not to touch the stove or you’ll get burnt. You see steam, fire or smoke and out of an insatiable curiosity you just have to try to touch it. This is understandable when you’re a child, but as we age, I would think that this old saying would emerge: to learn from the mistakes of others and profit from my own. Not to learn by making the exact same mistakes that droves of people continued to warn me of.

Throughout the article you’ll see the author insert suggestions on how to take the LSATS and which are the best law schools despite already admitting that the industry has shriveled.

Henderson noted that in this economic climate, even a degree from a top school does not guarantee a legal job. But California-based law school admissions consultant Ann Levine says that dimming job prospects and increasingly high tuition have yet to deter her nationwide client pool from seeking elite placements. 

“I had thought people would be more concerned about scholarships and willing to let go of ranking a little bit; I was wrong,” says Levine. “Still, people want to generally go to the best law school they can get into, regardless of costs.” At this point it seems like I’m a mocking bird, it is but so many times one can repeat the same issues: 1) law school is a default for those who don’t know what to do with themselves 2) law school has a false image of fast-track to big salary and prestige 3) false image that you can do anything with a law degree. In a prior post Life’s Mockery quoted members of the law school administration/academia referring to 0Ls as irrational and foolish for applying and attending law school at this point in the legal industry and economy. Here, this agent of a California law school EXPECTED for an increase of people to dive right into the 4th Tier pool with no water and not even think about rankings. Let’s face it, most law students, regardless of tier will not have a scholarship or fellowship to attend law school because they simply do not exist for most attendees in this profession.  How about that, not ony did she literally  bank on 0Ls to continue to apply to law schools but that you’ll be desparate enough (now that more knowledge and technology is out there) that you would ignore the perils of attending a 3rd or 4th tier law school, because their financial aid officer dangled some money in front of you. However, let’s be realistic on many schools offer scholarships, how many scholarships are offered and how many law students actual keep their scholarships after the first semester. Those would be some interesting statistics, in the end the potential law student will likely compromise his or her financial future and be miserable. In other words, she expected more 0Ls to be stupid in their decision on not only attending law school but to direct themselves right to the basement level.. However, should you know for sure that you’ll get full tuition and be able to keep it for the entire 3 years and not need money for food, gas and your other current bills, maybe you can. Nothing’s guaranteed, oft-times it’s just an enticement.

One of Levine’s clients, Oriana Pietrangelo, turned down several full rides for a partial scholarship this fall to Notre Dame Law School, a top tier school whose “name goes fairly far,” she says. 

“It would have been nice to not have any debt,” Pietrangelo says. “But I feel like I’m more likely to have a better job and higher paying salary going to Notre Dame as opposed to somewhere else.” But Pietrangelo is not yet devoted to Notre Dame Law School. She is on the waitlist at Northwestern University School of Law and, if accepted, she plans to attend and pay full tuition, she says, because it is ranked higher than Notre Dame. Wow, this person thinks going a few schools higher in rank and getting themselves into full law school debt will help their potential career. Slightly understandable, but the rationale is clearly flawed as Harvard and Yale law graduates are unable to find attorney positions in this economy.

While “everyone talks about the cost of tuition,” Levine says, “it’s actually not going to impact demand greatly because I think people see it as somewhat inevitable and beyond their control.”  As long as you allow them to charge you these exhorbitant tuition rates, they will continue to do so, because they know so many 0Ls are in love with the ‘prestige’ of the legal profession. She acknowledges that the legal industry will continue to do as it pleases and the 0Ls are enablers. There’s just an abundance of information on the web that there’s less of an excuse to put yourself through this than what many of us knew years ago.

Fiscally tough times especially hurt public law schools. Funding for higher education has been slashed in at least 41 financially strapped states, according to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit research organization. Higher education funding in Texas, for example, was reduced by $73 million, and public universities in Indiana saw a $150 million decrease this year.  No worries, Sallie Mae will help the schools out, since no one from an average financial background can reasonably afford the rates, student loans are inevitable. Attending law school isn’t though, you still have a chance 0L to make a wise decision earlier in your life.

“Certainly for the professions that tend to have a significant financial reward on the back end, we believe that students can pay a higher rate—whatever the market will allow for professional and graduate school,” Calderón said. “Then, if they have debt, they can retire that.” The problem is that for most law graduates there is not a significant financial reward, many are saddled with insurmountable debt. The market is not some extraneous variable. In a way it is supply and demand, but no one other than scam bloggers are truly addressing what is fueling the demand: misinformation from employment statistics to characterization of the legal industry.

Employment statistics are not taken into serious consideration, Calderón adds, because his board is not supplied with raw data.

“Perhaps we should,” he says. “But the question is, where do we get it and can we trust who’s giving it to us?” Maybe you can hire Fluster Cucked – RSS or Nando at THIRD TIER REALITY – Atom, I’m sure they’d be happy to assist.

Escalating tuition prices in a troubled market, spurred onward by generous student loans and students who are not fully committed to the profession, is a dangerous bubble that may well burst, Indiana University—Bloomington’s Henderson says.

“I’m trying to separate the value of the legal education from the signaling value that’s driving the bubble,” Henderson said. “The trends are clearly unsustainable.” You hear that, we are on the verge of Doomsday for the legal industry and 0Ls who continue to attend law school are just pumping that helium into the bubble until it bursts. You WILL NOT be able to say no one warned you, because many did, but your ego overcame you and it will be your worst enemy.

In the News: A New Unaccredited Law School Has Surge in Applications & Enrollment

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Strong start for UMass Law – The Boston Globe, July 6, 2010

Lower costs help to double size of first-year class

Yes, lower costs for an unaccredited law school lures unwitting 0Ls to mortgage their futures. Do they not know how slim the chances are for most lawyers who attend an accredited university to obtain jobs in this economy, let alone non-tier 1 law graduates from accredited law schools? The legal profession has become nothing more than a corporate veil.

NORTH DARTMOUTH — Applications and enrollment at the state’s first public law school have surged since the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth acquired the struggling Southern New England School of Law, an early sign that the controversial merger is off to an auspicious start. Sounds like a typical corporate merger and acquisition deal, you know business as usual. Let’s see when one company considers purchasing another it is likely for two reasons 1) company no. 2 is struggling and seeks to get rid of its product, in turn company no. 1 will probably get a tax write off and sell what assets it can to turn a profit OR 2) company no. 1 knows that somehow it can bilk what’s left of company no. 2 and put a spin on the merger to make it appear it’s a valuable asset again and secure new consumers to purchase its product with the prediction that in a few years it will return a profit. This is regardless of whether the product itself had any long-term value, which is why oft-times more money is spent in advertising and marketing (shiny admission brochures and course catalogs) than actually improving the product. This is also done regardless of whether a market is saturated. In general business, people throw ideas around, had it already been produced by another company it’s tossed out as “been there, done that.” Not with law schools.

Following years of pitched political battles to block its formation, the new University of Massachusetts School of Law received 462 applicants for this fall’s incoming class. That is more than twice the number who applied last year, when the school was a little-known private institution.  Even with staunch opposition, the failing law school was allowed to be recusitated though letting it die would’ve saved hundreds if not thousands of potential law students from a disheartening fate. One should wonder, is anyone listening, yes to the cash register.

The size of the first-year class is also doubling to 155. And students’ credentials, as measured by undergraduate grade point averages and LSAT scores, have risen, a feat for a school that has yet to be accredited by the American Bar Association, say university administrators. More than half of those accepted have decided to enroll. Should this statement be proven true, it either means the quality of higher education has reached a level of unimprovement or standards for admissions continued to be lowered. What is interesting is that many of the enrollees have competitive undergraduate records, yet CHOSE to attend an UNACCREDITED professional school. This makes no sense.

“Students are voting their confidence in the fact that we can probably get the accreditation,’’ Jean MacCormack, chancellor of UMass Dartmouth, who plans to seek the designation in 2012. Students are relying on their hopes that the school they attend will get accredited. They are taking a gamble where the stakes are highest on their future, not the schools. The law school will have recouped its investment via student loans, while law graduates (if they make it that far) will graduate with a substantial amount of debt, little job prospects and attendance to an unaccredited university on their resume. Someone push the ‘logic’ button please.

The new students are a nontraditional group, ranging from 21 to 59 years old. More than a fifth will pursue law degrees part time while continuing to work. Half are Massachusetts residents. Nearly a third are black, Latino, Asian, or Native American, the highest minority enrollment among Mass. law schools. The author attempts to make it appear that a third of incoming class is alot. It isn’t. Minorities have caught onto the game. Hopefully the spin on this article doesn’t attempt more students, especially minorities to take the bait to attend law school, especially this one! [see Law School Admissions Lag Among Minorities January 6, 2010 « Life’s Mockery]

And 39 percent will receive financial aid, including 25 students awarded a fellowship that covers half of the $23,565 tuition for committing to four years of practicing public service law upon graduation. 39% on student loans and only 25 OUT OF 462 students have a partial scholarship in which they have to work in a non-existent, low pay state/local level government job which won’t even cover their basic necessities after their initial deferment payment. Oh from an unaccredited law school, great investment right?

“The fellowship is a huge relief for someone in my position,’’ said Brandon Ferris, the 25-year-old victim-witness advocate. “As soon as this school became UMass, there was no question where I was going to go.’’ [emphasis mine] He’ll need a victim-witness advocate when he’s testifying about the student loan industry before Congress on Captiol Hill.

The public law school, whose tuition is about 40 percent less than what private law schools charge, formally assumed its new identity July 1. The school was decades in the making. Attempts to create it repeatedly faltered amid challenges from private law schools that said the state had enough law schools, questioned its financial feasibility, and were threatened by the more affordable competition. Yet, no one listened. Although I’m confident these law schools opposed this one for monetary reasons, like wanting to hoard potential law students for their own profit, at least they were right in asserting that the state had too many law schools.

Its existence, though, has not appeared to affect UMass Law’s primary rivals, including Suffolk, New England, and Western New England law schools. Suffolk saw a 2.5 percent increase in its applications for next year, with first-year enrollment holding steady at 530 students. These sound like unprecedented enrollment numbers, how can this be allowed?

Twenty first-year students are already on campus, getting a jump on law school with a criminal justice course taught by law school dean Robert Ward. In nine weeks over the summer, they will cover a range of topics from Fourth Amendment searches and seizures, to conspiracy and inchoate crimes.

Three weeks ago, Ward said, he worried whether some of his students belonged in law school. But he said he has found that the students have fewer academic challenges and possess better writing and analytic skills than students in previous years’ classes.  [emphasis mine]This professor even admits that the school admitted students who should not be attending law schools, but “at least they’re better than the prior class.” That doesn’t mean much except that many students in that prior class shouldn’t have been admitted either. I wonder whether more professor will have the courage to form a committee to make recommendations on limiting law school enrollment and types of students enrolled. Probably not, that will interfere with their sabbaticals and pensions.

Other supporters have stepped up as well to help build the law school’s future, which MacCormack has vowed would not cost taxpayers a cent. Charles Hoff, a venture capitalist, former UMass trustee, and UMass Lowell graduate, has pledged $210,000 in scholarships for needy graduates of any UMass campus to attend the law school. Key words: venture capitalist, thus a money making venture, investors are banking on the false hopes of newly enrolled students.

The new students said having a state law school makes a legal education more accessible. With the lower tuition, and fellowships for public service and high LSAT scores, some students believe they will graduate with little to no debt. Look how subtle this line is. The author implies, that’s what they believe but is not reality. Even with partial fellowships for those whopping 25 enrollees, interest and fees will mount and continue to increase as the student loan industry tries to recoup money it will lose due to the new federal regulations concerning subsidized loans. Law graduates will likely rely on parents, credit cards, forebearances and deferments for survival. That’s why the author states “some students believe they will graduate with little or no debt.” Belief is not reality.