Posts Tagged ‘report’

Bloomberg’s News Article, Death of the Legal Industry and its Obituary

Law school No Longer a Safe Safe Bet
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-22/when-law-is-no-longer-a-safe-bet.html
Bloomberg News

Although the article seems to mourn associates and their high salaries which the author recognizes is only a small percentage of actual attorneys, it gives the reader a backlash if you are a law graduate. It references how white collar employees who demeaned or look down upon blue collar workers in the 1950s who chose to forego higher education. This portion is distasteful as many law graduates who graduated before the 2008 economic collapse but in the late 1990s or later had nothing to do with 1950s social stigma as they were not even born and just emphasizes what I pointed out in the last point that no one cares what happens to attorneys as society has nearly always relegated practitioners as underhanded, spoiled, backstabbers and overpaid. The author basically gives a “middle finger” to attorneys and reflects why there is lack of support of reform from the accrediting agencies to those on Capitol Hill. The article did however discussed the legal industry as dead (yet more confirmation from mainstream media) and even wrote its obituary. A portion of the news article is displayed below:
_______________________________________________________

When I was contemplating becoming an English major, lo these many years ago, one helpful counselor told me that despite the stereotypes, English majors had lots of job opportunities. Advertising, public relations, academia. “And there’s always law school!” she said chirpily.
I didn’t end up going to law school; instead, after graduating, I embarked on a peripatetic odyssey of jobs and graduate school that culminated in my becoming a journalist. But I can imagine an alternative universe in which I did go to law school. Law school has long been the backup plan for humanities majors who don’t quite dare to apply for food stamps.
That era appears to be ending. Noam Scheiber writes the obituary:
“‘Stable’ is not the way anyone would describe a legal career today. In the past decade, twelve major firms with more than 1,000 partners between them have collapsed entirely. The surviving lawyers live in fear of suffering a similar fate, driving them to ever-more humiliating lengths to edge out rivals for business. ‘They were cold-calling,’ says the lawyer whose firm once turned down no-name clients. And the competition isn’t just external. Partners routinely make pitches behind the backs of colleagues with ties to a client. They hoard work for themselves even when it requires the expertise of a fellow partner. They seize credit for business that younger colleagues bring in.
“And then there are the indignities inflicted on new lawyers, known as associates. The odds are increasingly long that a recent law-school grad will find a job. Five years ago, during a recession, American law schools produced 43,600 graduates and 75 percent had positions as lawyers within nine months. Last year, the numbers were 46,500 and 64 percent. In addition to the emotional toll unemployment exacts, it is often financially ruinous. The average law student graduates $100,000 in debt.
“Meanwhile, those lucky enough to have a job are constantly reminded of their expendability. ‘I knew people who had month-to-month leases who were making $200,000 a year,’ says an associate who joined a New York firm in 2010. They are barred from meetings and conference calls to hold down a client’s bill, even pulled off of cases entirely. They regularly face mass layoffs. Many of the tasks they performed until five or ten years ago—like reviewing hundreds of pages of documents—are outsourced to a reserve army of contract attorneys, who toil away at one-third the pay. ‘All these people kept on going into this empty office,’ recalls a former associate at a Washington firm. ‘No one introduced them. They were on the floor wearing business suits. … It was extremely creepy.’ Still, any associate tempted to resent these scabs should consider the following: Legal software is rapidly replacing them, too.”

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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.

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.