Posts Tagged ‘legal industry’

Too Little Too Late Part II: ABA Journal Article

A recent blurb was published in the online ABA Journal positing the question of how to improve law schools. One of the highlighted suggestions included reducing the cost of a law school education. This will have a two fold negative effect: 1) As law schools are already discharging and furloughing support staff and adjunct faculty to further reduce costs will increase the loss of non tenured faculty and support staff (I know reader, I heard you chuckle) 2) Will lower the standards of a law school education which will make the law degree worth even less than it is now, as many law graduates learned the hard way. Ironically, it is published by the very law school accrediting agency that is responsible for the glut of attorneys that’s been happening for decades. Those who are in a position to implement change can start by not accrediting any more law schools and it is now time to shut down many of them. The measurement of success is not just in a constricted market but does the law degree hold value when the economy enjoys economic progress. For most, the answer is “no” as the problem existed for decades cloaked under false employment statistics and contract work. For many law schools the following suggestions is akin to performing CPR after the person has died.
I hope you enjoy the comic relief:
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How to improve law school? Required clinical training, capped loans are among expert suggestions
http://www.abajournal.com/mobile/article/how_to_improve_law_school_required_clinical_training_capped_loans_are_among/
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Jul 24, 2013, 05:45 am CDT
Law schools that once promised grads a place among the elite need to change along with the legal profession, according to several experts who offered their suggestions.

The New Republic queried the experts as a follow-up to an article that, in its words, “chronicles the looming economic collapse of the legal profession.” ABAJournal.com reported on the highlights or the prior article here. The experts’ suggestions are here.

Among the suggestions gathered by the New Republic:

• From Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz: Law schools should offer two years of academic instruction and a third year focused on the student’s career choice that could include internships and clinical training. The third year change might result in the need for fewer teachers and reduced costs. “There are no free lunches when it comes to legal education,” he write, “but cost-cutting is essential as law-school tuition has ballooned dramatically over the past half century.”

• From University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos, who formerly blogged at Inside the Law School Scam: Cap student loans. “The cost of law school needs to be reduced to what it was a generation ago,” he writes. “This would happen practically overnight if the federal government put reasonable caps on educational loans.”

• Slate legal correspondent Dahlia Lithwick: Add a hands-on clinical component to legal education, and put it during the first year. “The hope is that a year of practicing taking depositions, doing document review, and interviewing cranky clients might have helped clarify for many of us, early and often, that we won’t all get to be Clarence Darrow,” she says.

Georgetown Law Graduate Discusses Law School: Is it Worth It?

Freedom from the Sunk Cost Fallacy: Say No to Law School
http://drewfrederick.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/freedom-from-the-sunk-cost-fallacy-say-no-to-law-school/
July 2013

During my fourth semester of law school, having already put in two years’ patent law work at a prestigious law firm, I realized that I didn’t want to be a lawyer.  All my friends told me to stick it out and finish the final year since I’d already invested two years of my life, and a lot of money, into law school.

Then I discovered the sunk cost fallacy: the mistake of incorporating past losses into current decisions.  For example, consider two men who have concert tickets to a favorite band playing at an outdoor venue; the first man received his free as a promotion while the second man paid $50.  On the evening of the concert, the weather is terrible and neither man wants to go.  The first man rationalizes that his ticket was free anyway, so doesn’t go, while the second forces himself to go, lest he lose $50.

But, of course, the ideal rational decision should be the same.  In both cases, at the time of decision, the men simply possess tickets to a show.  Assuming their preferences are the same, it is irrelevant how they came by those tickets – therefore, neither should go.  The second man has been duped by the sunk cost fallacy, believing that the cost already sunk in his ticket is relevant to a later decision.  It isn’t.

In deciding whether to finish my final year of law school, the only relevant question was whether it was worth the additional year and expense to receive my law degree; it was irrelevant whether I’d already spent two days, two years, or two decades pursuing the degree.  I finally decided that it was, considering that a law degree can be used to open a wide variety of doors (not just doors to law firms), but if I’d been in the same position after only my first year, with another two more years to go, my decision would have been to walk – nay, run.

Now that graduate degrees are what undergraduate degrees were twenty years ago, Generation Y seems to feel professionally incomplete without a master’s degree, law degree, or MBA.  U.S. law schools are graduating more future lawyers than ever before, and it’s a booming business for University, Inc.  Unfortunately, job opportunities and income are simply not keeping pace with the supply of graduate degrees, and Millennials now complain of debt, particularly student debt, as their “biggest financial concern.”  So it’s worth asking the question: Is law school worth it?  Let’s look.

Tuition.  At Georgetown University Law Center, my alma mater, annual tuition for 2012-13 was $48,835.00.  Just tuition.  To give you an idea of how much that is, here is a picture of several stacks of $100 bills, totaling $40,000.  Stare at this picture for a moment.  Then repeat to yourself: All this money is NOT ENOUGH for a SINGLE SEMESTER of law school tuition.
Living expenses.  Depends on where you go to law school, of course, but D.C. is not a cheap place to live.  My poorest law school friends squeaked by on another $20,000 a year, but most people racked up $30,000+ a year in rent, utilities, insurance, transportation, books, fees, and entertainment.
Opportunity cost.  Few Americans have enough savings for six months’ worth of unemployment; can you imagine three years of unemployment?  Some students were lucky enough to get summer associate positions at law firms but they were few and far between.  Most students settled for a modestly paid or even unpaid summer internship.  To calculate opportunity cost, figure out how much you could have made in the same period and subtract what you actually did make.  For most law students, the opportunity cost is well over $30,000 a year.
Interest.  Money ain’t cheap.  Most students will pay interest on their entire law school debts for many years after graduation.
Let’s assume a net expense of $70,000 per year for three years, plus an annual opportunity cost of $30,000, and amortize that over ten years at 6% per year.  That comes to a monthly cost of $3,330, or about $40,000 per year – for the next ten years.  But remember: that $40K premium is paid with after-tax dollars.  (Yes, there is a student loan interest deduction, but it’s limited to $2500, a tiny fraction of the interest paid, and it doesn’t apply to single people whose adjusted gross income is over $75,000.)  At a 30% marginal tax rate, representing federal and state income taxes, this $40K premium actually represents $57,000 of one’s nominal income.

In other words, if you go to law school under the above assumptions, then you’ll be paying $57,000 a year for the next decade just to break even, so your new job as a lawyer better account for that.  But what happens if you discover you don’t like practicing law?  Or what if your law degree doesn’t add $57K to your salary?  The major D.C. law firms, for example, are starting new lawyers at between $100K and $140K, but these positions are highly competitive and a relatively small proportion of law school graduates, even from the highest ranked schools, can get these coveted positions.

According to Above the Law, the median starting salary for law firms in 2012 was just $85K, and for those not lucky enough to land a law firm job, the median starting salary was only $60K.  Then again, over 15% of 2011 graduates had a median starting salary of $0, since they couldn’t find a job at all.

So let’s say you give up your $50K/year job to go to law school and get an $85K/year law firm job.  Not only will your real income shrink by $22,000 a year ($57,000 in annual debt payments makes a big dent in your increased salary) but you’ll actually be working significantly longer hours just to make that higher salary.  That’s right.  To succeed in one of those high-paying law firms, expect to bill 45+ hours a week, which means actually being present for 60-70 hours a week to deal with meetings, non-billables, and other administrative and corporate bullshit.  Believe me, I’ve been there.  And, of course, you can’t leave – you’ve already incurred the law school debt and need the job to pay it off.

Conclusion?

Option A: Quit your job, go to law school, incur enormous amounts of debt, compete for the coveted law firm position that will pay you, after your student loan payments, less than you made before, where you will work 50% to 75% more hours, and that you cannot leave for ten or more years because of your law school debt.
Option B: Be happy with your current job and avoid law school like the plague.

Too Little Too Late: Four Ways to Fix Law Schools (U.S. News & World Reports)

It has been a long time since I posted here, primarily due to focusing on my survival in such a grave economy and Sallie Mae venomously nipping at my heels. Anyway, I came across this “article” Four Ways to Fix Law Schools (click link). I find this as too little too late. Sometimes it is better to let something that is on death bed to pass away peacefully. For decades proponents of the law school industry have known that they were creating a bubble that would burst. Those law schools already in existence continued to pump out exorbitant number of law graduates by either increasing class sizes or adding programs to its over-saturated law school population. The ABA who loves to perpetuate the fun continued to accredit law schools though statistically it was quite aware of the economic burden v. benefits were not adding up. The main excuse the ABA used was that it would violate antitrust laws should it limit the accreditation of any additional law schools. This is counterintuitive. Antitrust laws exist to keep a market competitive for available sources, it is not to create a general market with barely any regulation so in reality there is no competition because there aren’t many jobs to compete for. Increasing law school admissions does not expand the job market it only makes the legal industry worse.

The suggestions listed in the article are simply too little too late. Even where it states to train U.S. attorneys to work abroad, in previous posts I have discussed that Spain, England and some Asian countries have a surplus of attorneys, and most of them do not think highly of the U.S. It is unreasonable to think that other countries, some part of the European Union which has their own economic crises to deal with, will welcome an influx of American attorneys with open arms.

Though it is common sense that in any industry, the learner must have “hands-on” experience and some level of intellectual pursuit. Law schools churned out too many “what if” asking professionals instead of those who can actually practice law. Those who can likely went to law schools that catered to local hiring and thus do not fall within the IVY League core, in essence the former has little to no change of upward mobility in experience or expanding their practicing fields. This article also focuses on the ‘future’ and has no solution or even reference to recent law graduates or attorneys who were not trained under apprenticeships though required to CLEs.  Thousands upon thousands of American attorneys who have already been thrown to the wayside, yet we are to believe that all of a sudden a 3-point article offers best solutions for potential law graduates.. Should of any of the law schools and ABA would like to take this article seriously it would have to take an economic loss by choosing a moratorium on any further law schools to be accredited and recommended lower admissions until either the legal industry re-invents itself or the lawyer to job creation numbers reaches a reasonable number. Until then this is simply baiting those who are still in their desperate state of minds consider law school as a viable option for a career and those who have a financial stake in the business aspect of the law school industry. This is just more fluff to keep the facade that the legal industry can recover. Times change, both economically and practically and they appear to change for the worse. The recommendation stays the same, the nearly insurmountable debt and poor quality of life is not worth it. Do not go to law school.

Woa Tells Us How You Really Feel: Forbes-Why Attending Law School Is The Worst Career Decision You’ll Ever Make

Why Attending Law School Is The Worst Career Decision You’ll Ever Make; Forbes Magazine, 06/26/2012

Not my words, words of Forbes magazine contributor. Wow, the magazine that is all about investing, making money, describing the wealthiest people around the world telling you law school is a bad investment. May we say told you so? This is major. We already witnessed The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal joining in the protest of ‘say no to law school,’ but Forbes. I must say this is great!

The news for would-be attorneys keeps getting worse. According to analysis from the Wall Street Journal released yesterday, only 55% of class of 2011 law school grads were employed full-time as lawyers nine months after graduation. The other 45% may be unemployed, working at Starbucks or starting their own law school hate blogs. LOVE IT.

The message that law school is no longer a sure bet when it comes to employment security and financial prosperity finally seems to be sinking in for potential students. In the last two years, the number of law school applicants has dropped by almost a quarter and the number of LSAT tests administered by the Law School Admissions Council has declined by 16%. How long we’ve been writing about this? False assurance of upward mobility, excessive debt, financial indentured servant status…This is so redundant, yet so true

Some law schools may be reducing admissions but…

That’s not stopping new law schools from forming? What, say it isn’t so. As long as you 0L keep falling for it, they’ll keep building. “If you make it they will come.” We see how much the ABA is looking out for the legal indu$try…

Here’s the article UMass Law School Gets Provisional Accreditation from ABA:The Wall Street Journal, 06/13/2012

Some law schools are endeavoring to produce fewer graduates or to “reboot” legal education, but for others, the accreditation process keeps moving along.

Massachusetts’ first public law school, the University of Massachusetts School of Law in Dartmouth, has received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association, the Boston Globe reported.

Two words to describe this industry “cha-ching.”

The school will get full accreditation after meeting ABA standards for the next three years. Meanwhile, its students will be able to take the bar exam in any state. Previously, they could only do so in Massachusetts or Connecticut.

The provisional accreditation is expected to bring increased applications to the school, which now has 325 students, the Globe noted.

“ABA accreditation is the gold seal of approval for law schools,” retiring UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean MacCormack said, the Herald News reported.

The school was created in 2010 at the location of the former Southern New England School of Law.

As WSJ reported, the ABA accredited 10 new law schools since 2006, and the number of law graduates increased to 44,495 this year from 42,673 in that time. The number of applicants to law school has been falling recently — 14% this year from last.

Law Blog noted recently that the ABA granted a five-year extension to Tennessee’s Lincoln Memorial University to get accreditation, after denying preliminary approval last year. The extension allows students to sit for the bar exam in Tennessee.

10 Things Law Schools Won’t Tell You: We reveal why the Juris Doctor isn’t what it used to be.

An article by SmartMoney magazine.  If you believe the following, in particular in reference to a law degree, you’re highly misguided and simply not listening to the CLEAR warnings being issued by the law school scam blogs and now the mainstream media:

“I thought if I got a higher degree, I’d have a better chance to get a job, but that’s not what happened.”

Ha. My favorite part is the caveat emptor, nonchalant ‘you’re stupid enough to believe what we say attitude from one administrator of the Thomas Cooley School of Law. Leave it to an attorney to justify its clients’ deceptive practices and possible violations of civil law. Yes, this is what you deal with in the real world, your supposed bosses, colleagues and mentors will eat you alive as long as they get paid to do it. “…. James Thelen, general counsel at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, says the institution follows the American Bar Association and NALP’s rules when reporting job placement rates, and its web site lists the sectors its graduates have been hired to work in. Separately, he says, colleges can’t predict how an economic downturn will impact job openings. “No reasonable person could look at the accurate data we report about graduate employment today and believe that it is a guarantee that the very same percentage of job opportunities will be available when he or she graduates,” says Thelen.” You hear that? you are being referred to as irrational, lacking sense or the ability to deduce that you will be gainfully employed or employed at all by believing what law school’s official represent in their statistics. Classic.

From the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times and now SmartMoney (this media outlet is designed to inform consumers about financial planning and investments–hint, hint) So if you haven’t received the hint that you should not go to law school, then go ahead, don’t say we didn’t warn you. This is self-explanatory, the rest of the story is here:  10 Things Law Schools Won’t Tell You ; SmartMoney, June 6, 2012.

“American law schools in crisis” Title of a Recent News Article

Yes, the mainstream media continues to take the baton in this law school-scam-busting relay. Likely the primary reason for these news outlets to focus on law schools because graduate level students take more debt than undergraduates (usually) and the student loan bubble has been stewing in a pot of Congress’ let’s turn away and not deal with it kitchen until it’s too late.  I laughed when I saw the first paragraph thinking “we told you so.” It’s like applying pharmacy ointment on a 4th degree burn. The article was written by a former dean at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Interesting, maybe he’s trying to mitigate potential lawsuits against him, other deans and law schools, though I found another article about this guy planning to resign months ago because he disagreed with how the LAW SCHOOL WAS SPENDING MONEY (Closius resigns as UB Law dean, Maryland Daily Record, 07/2011).

Anyway, here’s an excerpt of “American Law Schools in Crisis”:

The Golden Age of American legal education is dead.

Every law dean knows it, but only some of them will feel it. Elite schools (the top 25 in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings) and the 43 non-elite state “flagship” law schools are almost immune to market pressures. Those at risk will come from the other 132 law schools — the ones that produce the majority of law graduates…

Jobs and tuition, then, become an issue of quality admits. The fall 2010 entering class actually increased to a new high of 49,700, even as the job market was falling. Schools must now choose between admitting smaller entering classes (and sacrificing revenue) or dealing with a decline in the quality of their students — or both.

You hear that 0L? Stop the delusion, the madness, and unfortunately for people of color who thought going to law school was the one lift they needed for upward mobility it has not been this way for 20 years. I suggest engineering, chemistry/scientist. I would say medical doctor but that industry is corrupt in and of itself. For those of you who attended law school and continued to do so after seeing these blogs, the only thing I can suggest is despite the “competition” naturally inherit in American adulthood, do something for your fellow man/woman. Warn them about the perils of attending law school. The full article can be found at the Baltimore Sun website here: American law schools in crisis 06/04/2012

Law Professor and Former Dean Writes Book Exposing the Law School Scam

This article The Bad News Law Schools – NYTimes.com (2/20/2012) describes what a former law school dean but still law professor has to say regarding law schools failings and the American Bar Association’s complicity in the legal industry crisis:

In fact, that news was itself not so new. Uneasiness about the state of legal education has been around for some time, but in the wake of the financial meltdown of 2008, uneasiness ripened into a conviction that something was terribly wrong as law school applications declined, thousands of lawyers lost their jobs, employers complained that law school graduates had not been trained to practice law, and law school graduates complained that they had been led into debt by false promises of employment and high salaries. And while all this was happening, law schools continued to raise tuition, take in more and more students, and construct elaborate new facilities.

Well, I think this sums it up.

Attorneys and Law Students Commit Suicide All Over the World

These are stories of law students and attorneys whose delusion with practicing law, obtaining a job and being able to provide for basic needs such as food is compromised, or dealt with depression and saw no other way out but suicide. From North Africa to India to to Europe Michigan, USA. This post does not endorse suicide but to provide a glimpse into other side of the legal industry and a warning to 0Ls who are convinced it will not be them. Statistics have shown that attorneys are two to six times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.  The rhetoric is fading and reality is settling in and most people are unable to deal with their false-fed dreams….

Here’s a sampling of lawyer/law student suicides from around the world. These are just the ones who made the news (protest, prestigious law firm, or top school involved).

Autopsy and 911 call reveal Fargo lawyer shot himself at I-29 rest stop (02/10/2012) HILLSBORO, N.D. – An autopsy has confirmed that Fargo attorney Steven M. Light, whose body was found Wednesday evening inside a rest stop near Hillsboro, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Traill County Sheriff’s Department said.

 “But with that, there’s so much stress and so much pressure, and that can eat you alive and make you depressed,” Richie said.

Law Students Commit Suicide (02/07/2012) Rohtak (Haryana), Feb 7 (PTI) A law student allegedly committed suicide by jumping before a moving train here, police said.Babli (22), who was pursuing LLB from Maharshi Dayanand University, ended her life by jumping before Delhi-Jind Passenger train yesterday, they said.
The reason behind the girl taking the extreme step is yet to be ascertained, police said.

Moroccan law graduate who set himself on fire dies  (01/24/2012)  A 27-year-old Moroccan who set himself on fire to protest his unemployment died from his burns Tuesday in a Casablanca hospital, his wife said.

Abdelwahab Zaydoun was part of a group of unemployed graduates who occupied an Education Ministry building inRabat, the Moroccan capital, to protest their unemployment and threatened to set themselves fire when police didn’t let supporters deliver them food.

Prosecutor commits suicide during traffic stop (11/11/2011): Christine Trevino, 51, of Escondido committed suicide at 6:36 p.m. outside a shopping center at Vista Way and Jefferson Street, north of state Route 78. Police had been looking for her to conduct a welfare check, said Lt. Leonard Mata in a news release.

Escondido police had received information earlier in the day that Trevino had threatened to kill herself, got into her car and drove away from her home. Using unmarked cars, police tracked her cell phone and located her in Carlsbad, where they requested assistance from the Carlsbad Police Department.

Council lawyer who hanged himself ‘wrote suicide letter to controversial boss Andrea Hill’ (08/31/2011)

Student’s Death Likely a Suicide (04/29/2010) CHAPEL HILL — A student found dead in an Odum Village apartment on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus Wednesday was a third-year law student who appeared to have killed himself, law school dean Jack Boger said Thursday.

Pune Law Student Commits Suicide (01/26/2010)PUNE/AHMEDNAGAR: A second-year student of DES Law College in Pune allegedly committed suicide by jumping into a well at Umbare Khandba village near Rahuri in Ahmednagar district, about 150 km from Pune, on Monday.

Suicide Victim a Baker & Hostetler Partner (01/22/2010) Police have determined that the death of John Mason Mings earlier this week on a beach in Galveston, Texas, was an apparent suicide. Mings was 45.

Body of Missing University of Michigan Law Student Found (12/03/2009) A University of Michigan Law School student reported missing last month hanged himself, Washtenaw County sheriff’s deputies said.

She was a mother of three and top lawyer who jumped off a bridge into the Thames. What does her death tell us about Britain today? (08/01/2009)

What do you do when your child is asking for you, while your boss is insisting that you get yourself into the next meeting, all the time desperately trying not to show one iota of the stress you are under beneath that polished veneer of professionalism.

It is an impossible situation. Why do it? For power and prestige? For inner fulfillment? Clearly, the latter was insufficient to prevent this lovely young woman cracking under the strain of it all and seeking her own final solution

Mark Levy–Laid off Lawyer Commits Suicide (04/30/2009). Mark Levy, a Washington DC lawyer, shot himself in the head in his office one day after being laid off from his law firm Kilpatrick Stockton.

 …David Baum, the law school’s assistant dean and senior manager of student affairs, said in a statement posted on Above the Law that the school had been aware of McGinnis’ challenges and adjusted his academic load.

Law School Losing Allure For Part-time Students; Continued Exposure About Rankings/Standards

All Rights Reserved

A few highlights from the news article Part-time Law School Loses Allure (02/06/2012) “The question has become, ‘Am I going to fill my part-time class this year?’ ” Rutt said.  “In the Northeast, people have many options, and I think some part-time programs are going to go away. Frankly, I don’t think the demand is there. It is jargon meaning:  there are too many law schools.

Ooh, more investigations: Meanwhile, law schools continued to create part-time programs. There were 40 part-time day programs at ABA-accredited schools in 2006 and 53 by 2010. Similarly, there were 55 evening part-time programs in 2006 and 65 by 2010. Garon and others have speculated that the U.S. News loophole prompted some of this growth — law schools could admit weaker students without compromising their rankings.

Exposing the law school scam: The council data showed that, on average, students in part-time programs had lower LSAT scores and undergraduate grade-point averages than all new law students combined. U.S. News explained its decision to close the loophole by saying that the new methodology “produces the most complete comparisons.”

“One reason we might see some part-time programs close is because of the U.S. News rule change,” said Eric Janus, dean of the William Mitchell College of Law. “A number of law schools founded or expanded their part-time programs as a way to hide their students with lower credentials. Now, every student counts.”

A larger number of schools will “tinker” with their part-time model, Garon continued, perhaps offering more online courses or adding low-residency programs allowing out-of-town students to convene on campus for three-day stretches. In other words,  as regulators find irregularities and further scrutinize law school practices, law schools will seek another method to circumvent it.

Another option is to offer a “vanilla” J.D. degree — centered on basic law courses such as torts and civil procedure — at a lower price, then charge extra for clinics and other resource-intensive classes, Garon said. Schools also could do a better job of integrating specialties such as entertainment law, health law and intellectual property into their part-time programs, to open up new streams of potential students.

Hey maybe they can provide a 2 for 1 on elective courses; would you like fries with that J.D.?

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