Posts Tagged ‘legal’

Minorities Decrease Enrollment in Law Schools: They Figured Out the Game

In January Life’s Mockery posted: Law School Admissions Lag Among Minorities January 6, 2010 « Life’s Mockery .

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Though minorities increased obtaining a Bachelor’s degree and their LSATs score, decided to opt out of the law school, bury your financial future game. Well, it’s being reported again: 

Black Presence in Law Schools Dwindling
by Kenneth Mallory
We know how sincerely you’re concerned about minorities becoming a part of this noble profession. Or do you really see them as fresh hunting ground to lure them into the financial debt game via Sallie Mae; just like the mortgage industry did with home loans. How about improving the statistics of CURRENT unemployed minorities instead of trying to rope more into the dizzying maze of professional no-where-land.
“Miles to Go” finds that African-American representation in law is less than other professions, like teaching and medicine. Wow, this makes me feel better. Medicine is more lucrative, characterized by hard science and you practically help (well ideally) others improve their health. I’ve heard for years that education field need more teachers (primary), and even a call for reform regarding teachers’ salary.

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – A report by the American Bar Association has found that the proportion of minorities, including Blacks and Hispanics, enrolling in law schools has decreased in the past two years. One way to keep your risk of living in this country at a decent level.

”Minority representation among law students has dropped for the past two years, from 20.6 percent in 2001-2002 to 20.3 percent in 2003-2004,” said the findings in the third edition of “Miles to Go: Progress of Minorities in the Legal Profession,” published by the ABA’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Legal Profession.

In addition, the report contends minorities are less apt than Whites to head to private law firms after leaving law school, more likely to resign from firms after three years there and ”continue to be grossly underrepresented in top level jobs, such as law partner and corporate general counsel.” Interesting, but where are the statistics on unemployed minority attorneys, you know the majority?

The report’s author, New York Law School Professor Elizabeth Chambliss, deemed the finding of reduced enrollment ”extremely troubling,” and, in an interview, discussed the under-representation of minorities in the profession. Yes, you believe that the legal industry has not tapped into a potential lucrative resource that will increase your yearly salary and boost your probability of obtaining tenure. It’s not troubling for minorities who have figured out your game and know that they will be treated like second class citizens throughout law school and after with ‘professors’ having such racist proclamations as “You went to law school?” They’re saving themselves from additional psychological damage from overt racism that professors and others guise as a form of wit with such back handed compliments. Minorities aren’t stupid enough to believe you have a genuine ‘concern’ that they’re not attending law school

”The legal profession already is one of the least racially integrated professions in the United States when all four minority groups [African-American, Hispanic, Asian American, Native American] are aggregated,” she said. ”African-Americans, too, are represented at lower levels than in many comparable professions. In 2000, African-Americans made up only 3.9 percent of all lawyers, compared to 4.4 percent of physicians, 5.6 percent of college and university professors, 7.8 percent of computer scientists and 7.9 percent of accountants and auditors.”

Chambliss discussed the implications of such findings.

”The low level of Black representation in the profession may discourage promising Black students from considering law and limit Black lawyers’ chances to find mentors and role models within the law. And, to the extent that Black lawyers are more likely than others to be concerned with racial justice, discrimination, community development, and the like, the dearth of Black lawyers contributes to an already unequal access to lawyers in the United States.” Yes, discourage them, save them from a lifetime of Sallie Mae harassments, unemployment, the grits, the taunting, the presumptive “you’re here because of affirmative action.” How many decades have passed before you realized the false hope of upward mobility via law school. [See Life’s Mockery’s post for comments on legacy admissions, minorities, and chances for upward mobility: [University of Michigan Law Journal: Preserving a Racial Hierarchy: « Life’s Mockery]

The dean of admissions at a prominent area law school acknowledged a decline in the number of minorities enrolling in its program, while another said the number of Black applicants was declining. This is encouraging and tragic at the same time.

At the George Washington University Law School, Robert Stanek, associate dean for admissions and financial aid, said enrollment declined at the highly competitive school, which, according to the ABA, received more than 11,000 applications in 2004.

”Two, three and four years ago, we admitted a certain number of minority candidates, and usually the numbers that enrolled constituted about a third of the class,” said Stanek. ”Last year, our same number of offers of admission resulted in a much lower percentage registered. We didn’t see an application decline. We saw a decline in the numbers accepting our offer of admission.”

Stanek said school officials are still trying to ”digest exactly what [has] happened,” and, subsequently, have not initiated any new recruitment efforts for minority students. Minorities became weary of seeing their parent, sibling or spouse attend law school, saddle with debt, with little to no job prospect in the legal industry and the social environment of racism that permeates most law firms. I hope that clarifies it for you. Simply put, one gets tired of running into a brick wall, all the while expected to keep a smile on their face though the soul silently protests.

But Reginald McGahee, dean of admissions at Howard University Law School, perhaps the premiere African-American law school in the country, said the number of applicants applying to Howard Law and many other higher education institutions across the country has declined, especially among Black males.
Though most HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) are supported by minority attendance and this is a little daunting; but at the same time understandable. Though the social and educational experience is likely different than at other law schools, many have learned that a long-term strategy regarding standard of living and career is more of a priority.

”There is a universal drop in African-American males that are applying to law schools, and more specifically, higher education in general. And we’re seeing that same decline,” he said.

Law officials discussed obstacles that might preclude Blacks from pursuing careers in law, such as a growing disinterest in the profession and the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test), which many feel is biased against Black law school applicants. Why must you assume that it is the LSAT that is discouraging minorities and not the legal industry itself, especially in light of a previous article stating that minorities actually have increased their LSAT scores over the past few years [Law School Admissions Lag Among Minorities January 6, 2010 « Life’s Mockery] it is this presumptive racism that Blacks don’t want to deal with.

Lawrence Baca, chair of the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, said law schools can increase the number of minorities by having Black law school graduates reach out to Black students. If any Blacks do, I hope it is to be honest and warn them of the true reality of the legal industry in the United States.

”Any law school that wants to increase minority participation, or, particularly, Black participation, is going to have to get out and do some outreach work,” Baca said. ”The first thing that I would do if I was a law school is I would find my graduates of color, whatever racial or ethnic group it is, and ask them for their assistance in helping me identify folks and convincing folks to apply.” Outreach to Blacks? Why would they lower themselves to interacting with Black people, oh but then again the legal industry is a business so to repeat in Black Like Me: “We’ll do business with you…” Please spare us the ‘real concern’ facade and I hope 0Ls don’t fall for the attorney encouraging them to attend law school. This false prestige is disgusting, that’s why so many attorneys are so phony in their interactions because they’re deluded and continue to try to convince themselves and others about the industry. So the legal industry suggests using minority lawyers as the agent by which to their bidding and lead unwitting 0L sheep through to law school slaughter.

Baca said he believed a major reason Black students are not considering careers in law is because they lack role models in the profession and do not hear about positive things lawyers have done with their careers.  [emphasis mine]. Exactly, which is why for the most part they should not go.

He also said lawyers have not been pictured in a positive light in the media, possibly deterring students from considering law careers.

”The legal trade for one reason or another has not had the best reputation in the press, and to the extent that it may be causing students to not apply to law school, the way to get past that is for our folks to go into the law schools and say, ‘I don’t care about what you wrote about in the paper. Here’s what I did last week with my career,”’ said Baca. Yes, honesty in what has happened to their legal career, that would be great, please note that it won’t get the result you want, but will simply deter more potential students (hopefully) from enrolling.

But a major concern voiced by many future Black lawyers, as well as those advocating increased diversity in the profession, is the hurdle the LSAT poses to Black students.

”One of the main barriers to increasing diversity among law students is law schools’ heavy reliance on the LSAT. African Americans and other minority groups score lower, on average, than Whites, on the LSAT, yet law schools’ reliance on this measure of aptitude has increased markedly over time,”

Chambliss said in a statement. ”One point differences on the LSAT can make the difference between admission and rejection by law schools, even though such differences are not statistically significant, and even though the LSAT does not predict success as a lawyer, however measured.”

Stanek agreed that the LSAT is quickly becoming the most important factor in law school admissions.

”Is it overriding all other factors? I don’t think so — yet,” he said. McGahee said some currently believe the LSAT is biased.

”The main thing that we have to realize [is] that there’s a lot of debate out there right now that there are some inherent biases that go along with the LSAT. Being at Howard, we’re more sensitive to that than some other institutions in the countries may be. But what we can’t get away from [is] that, right now, there is no other test to properly evaluate and predict whether a student will or won’t do well in law school,” he said.

McGahee said Black students should take time to ensure they are prepared for the LSAT. But according to Chambliss, law schools shouldn’t rely as much on the standardized test.

”Law schools concerned with increasing the diversity of their student bodies need to focus less on the LSAT and more on other measures of achievement, including undergraduate grades and work history,” she said.

Although the LSAT is important, I sincerely hope that the media and the legal industry stop characterizing it as some unbeknown reason why this is likely an issue for minorities. One is having access to prepatory materials, which I would say 6-10 years ago was more difficult than now. Information technology has decreased the barrier of access and some may not understand how important the LSAT is in paving the path to their legal career. It’s more of an issue of preparation and not lack of ability or intelligence.

But Kim Keenan, president of the National Bar Association, a group representing thousands of Black lawyers, discussed the possible ramifications the underrepresentation of African Americans in law will have for the Black community in the future.I agree and discussed this here [Law School Admissions Lag Among Minorities January 6, 2010 « Life’s Mockery]

”Ultimately, at some point, you will not be able to find lawyers of color,” said Keenan. I hope you do not think this is by happenstance.

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An Article from the Philadelphia Inquirer: Less jobs for law graduates

Philadelphia-area law firms cutting back on summer internships | Philadelphia Inquirer | 07/07/2010 

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Philadelphia-area law firms cutting back on summer internships

By Chris Mondics

Inquirer Staff Writer

For top law school students, summer-internship programs at big, brand-name law firms have helped open the golden door to lucrative full-time employment. The failing legal industry continues to make headline news as IVY League and top tier law graduates have been unable to obtain jobs. No one cares about the tens of thousands of law graduates outside of this limited category. They’ve been dealing with this for years.

But at some firms, that door is starting to swing shut. Many prominent law firms in the Philadelphia region and around the nation report substantially smaller internship programs this summer, as firms cope with the downturn in the legal marketplace and client demands that only seasoned lawyers be assigned to their matters. Just like the federal government, the private sector is relying more on well experienced attorneys sometimes regardless of the name-brand in your portfolio. I’ll surmise that the purpose of this article is saying that since these “top” law graduates are unable to get jobs, the legal job market is pretty dismal. Somewhat of a litmus test perhaps.

What’s more, firms are shortening their programs and paying summer associates less. At least they’re getting paid, and we’ll be sure not to weep for the $10,000 lost in the pay cut. Cry me a river.

The changes range from canceled programs at the Center City firms of Morgan Lewis & Bockius L.L.P. and Ballard Spahr L.L.P. to reduced internships at Dechert L.L.P., Blank Rome L.L.P., and Reed Smith L.L.P., a Pittsburgh-based firm with a 150-lawyer office in Philadelphia.

Dechert went from 99 summer-associate positions at the height of the legal market in 2007 to 36 this year. Reed Smith, a 1,600-lawyer firm, said the number dropped from a high of 81 in 2008 to 21 this year.

“It was definitely a challenging market for our students and they did have fewer choices for this summer,” said Melissa Lennon, assistant dean in the office of career planning at Temple University Law School. “Challenging,” that’s when something is difficult but the goals is still accomplished, it’s more accurate to say nearly insurmountable.

Three years ago, when law firms were booming, the market for summer associates was far more robust. More about the elite group.

Law firms flocked to campuses to compete for top second-year students and brandished salaries as high as $2,700 a week or more.

And, summer associates typically received offers of full-time employment once they had their law degrees.

The programs themselves, with trips abroad and lavish entertaining, could seem more like summer enrichment for precocious college students than real employment.

But as a general rule, that sort of treatment is a thing of the past. Yes, we know. Just to provide some advice, when you’re attempting to lure sympathy from a reader, it’s better not to talk about how associates were spoiled and lived it up and moreso focus on how they were able to meet their basic living expenses with money to save. It is this type of journalism that feeds the non-lawyers lack of empathy when the economy is poor.

More typical is the summer program at the Wilmington office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom L.L.P., where Temple second-year Nick Mozal is spending his summer in corporate law. Mozal said there has been some entertaining, but the big event so far has been a night at a Phillies game.

He’s just grateful to have summer employment with a big-name firm.  That’s better.

“I feel very lucky, and I was very excited for it to have gone so smoothly,” said Mozal, who did his undergraduate work at Bucknell University and was raised in Exeter, a town in northeast Pennsylvania near Wilkes-Barre. “You can pick up the paper and read lots of stories about firms laying people off and [new hires] being deferred.”

Jennifer Wallace, a summer associate at Duane Morris L.L.P., a 700-lawyer firm, said recruiters had warned during interviews last year that the market for summer positions would be tough. Even so, Wallace, a second-year student at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, received multiple offers.

“The hiring partners and the people affiliated with the process were very up front in terms of what I could expect,” she said.

…James Lawlor, a Reed Smith partner who recruits and hires summer associates, said the firm has been doing less entertaining of summer associates, and when it does, it is more likely to schedule events at the firm’s Center City offices rather than at costly restaurants.

“We took away some of the bells and whistles,” Lawlor said. = unnecessary expenses which had they been spared previous years you might’ve been able to hire more associates in the future, but like the Titanic people thought the legal industry was ‘unsinkable.’

“We had a choice; there was going to be a day of reckoning where we would have two classes joining us in the same period, which struck us as undesirable,” said Geoffrey A. Kahn, a Ballard Spahr partner specializing in commercial litigation and white-collar defense who oversees hiring and recruitment at the firm.

The de-emphasis of internships in Philadelphia tracks national trends. The National Association for Law Placement, a trade association that focuses on the training and recruitment of lawyers, said that for all law firms, the median number of summer-associate positions offered this year had dropped to seven from 10 last year and 15 in 2008.

Moreover, NALP said that firms had been doing fewer on-campus interviews. And when internships are completed, they are making fewer offers of permanent jobs.

“For the class of 2011, those who went through the on-campus interview process last year, there were many fewer summer-associate positions available,” said James Leipold, NALP’s executive director….So the picture is not uniformly bleak.

No, just bleak for the majority of law graduates regardless of school and ranking the stark while irrational optimists attempt to hide the reality of the legal industry as a whole, beyond the current state of the U.S. economy.

Heather Frattone, an associate dean at Penn’s law school, said the school’s entire class of second-year students has managed to find some form of summer law employment, often going to work for the government or small firms…Interesting how they would define this, as whether paid or unpaid, temporary employment, internships, etc.

Summer programs not only give law students practical exposure to the work they will do as full-fledged lawyers, they also serve as key recruiting tools. And that is why they’ve been reduced: Law firms project they will need fewer lawyers over the next several years. [emphasis mine].  Translate, over the next SEVERAL years firms and other businesses will not hire attorneys, the legal industry continues to shrink! In other words, there will be no jobs for you! So why are you getting into debt with false hopes. Members of the industry are now telling you straight up there aren’t hardly any jobs and won’t be for the projected long-term.

But that doesn’t make the programs any less essential, said Alfred Putnam, chairman of Drinker Biddle, which has instituted a novel training program for first-year lawyers aimed at providing practical exposure before they are assigned to client matters – and before their time is billed to clients. Essential for whatever clientele and firms that are left and when convenient you will be squeezed out of a job as with any pecking order, except it will likely be sooner than later.

“I am happy we still have a summer-associate program and I am happy we are still hiring,” he said. “Unless you bring in new blood, the institution doesn’t survive.” At this point the legal industry needs a blood transfusion.