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Law School Applications Nearing 30 Year Low

law-school-houseman-paper-chase

I’ve written many times here about the impact that the recession and the Higher Education Bubble have had on the legal profession. Although the idea that going to Law School was a ticket to the “big bucks” was always exaggerated, the past several years have seen conditions that have made it clear that college students thinking about pursuing a legal career ought to think about what they really want and be mindful of what they’re getting themselves into. Early in the Great Recession, it started with young associates at big firms in New York and elsewhere trimming their staffs by laying off associates, reducing their hiring both for summer clerkships and long-term positions, and taking other steps that cut off many of the highest paying jobs in the legal profession to law school graduates. Shortly after that, as the recession deepened, new law school graduates found it harder and harder to find employment. As this continued, signs started to appear that students were noticing. Law school applications started to drop and, most recently, we saw that applications to take the LSAT exam had plummeted. Today, The New York Times notes that applications to American Law Schools are on a trend to be the lowest they’ve been in 30 years:

Law school applications are headed for a 30-year low, reflecting increased concern over soaring tuition, crushing student debt and diminishing prospects of lucrative employment upon graduation.

As of this month, there were 30,000 applicants to law schools for the fall, a 20 percent decrease from the same time last year and a 38 percent decline from 2010, according to the Law School Admission Council. Of some 200 law schools nationwide, only 4 have seen increases in applications this year. In 2004 there were 100,000 applicants to law schools; this year there are likely to be 54,000.

Such startling numbers have plunged law school administrations into soul-searching debate about the future of legal education and the profession over all.

“We are going through a revolution in law with a time bomb on our admissions books,” said William D. Henderson, a professor of law at Indiana University, who has written extensively on the issue. ”Thirty years ago if you were looking to get on the escalator to upward mobility, you went to business or law school. Today, the law school escalator is broken.”

Responding to the new environment, schools are planning cutbacks and accepting students they would not have admitted before.

A few schools, like the Vermont Law School, have started layoffs and buyouts of staff. Others, like at the University of Illinois, have offered across-the-board tuition discounts to keep up enrollments. Brian Leiter of the University of Chicago Law School, who runs a blog on the topic, said he expected as many as 10 schools to close over the coming decade, and half to three-quarters of all schools to reduce class size, faculty and staff.

After the normal dropout of some applicants, the number of those matriculating in the fall will be about 38,000, the lowest since 1977, when there were two dozen fewer law schools, according to Brian Z. Tamanaha of Washington University Law School, the author of “Failing Law Schools.”

(…)

“Students are doing the math,” said Michelle J. Anderson, dean of the City University of New York School of Law. “Most law schools are too expensive, the debt coming out is too high and the prospect of attaining a six-figure-income job is limited.”

Mr. Tamanaha of Washington University said the rise in tuition and debt was central to the decrease in applications. In 2001, he said, the average tuition for private law school was $23,000; in 2012 it was $40,500 (for public law schools the figures were $8,500 and $23,600). He said that 90 percent of law students finance their education by taking on debt. And among private law school graduates, the average debt in 2001 was $70,000; in 2011 it was $125,000.

“We have been sharply increasing tuition during a low-inflation period,” he said of law schools collectively, noting that a year at a New York City law school can run to more than $80,000 including lodging and food. “And we have been maximizing our revenue. There is no other way to describe it. We will continue to need lawyers, but we need to bring the price down.”

Some argue that the drop is an indictment of the legal training itself — a failure to keep up with the profession’s needs.

“We have a significant mismatch between demand and supply,” said Gillian K. Hadfield, professor of law and economics at the University of Southern California. “It’s not a problem of producing too many lawyers. Actually, we have an exploding demand for both ordinary folk lawyers and big corporate ones.”

She said that, given the structure of the legal profession, it was hard to make a living dealing with matters like mortgage and divorce, and that big corporations were dissatisfied with what they see as the overly academic training at elite law schools.

The drop in law school applications is unlike what is happening in almost any other graduate or professional training, except perhaps to veterinarians. Medical school applications have been rising steadily for the past decade.

Debra W. Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools, said applicants to master of business degrees were steady — a 0.8 percent increase among Americans in 2011 after a decade of substantial growth. But growth in foreign student applications — 13 percent over the same period — made up the difference, something from which law schools cannot benefit, since foreigners have less interest in American legal training.

It’s not surprising that this is happening. Students aren’t stupid and they’ve been seeing the writing on the wall for some time now. For a long time, and indeed even when I attended back in the early 1990s, law school was seen by many American undergrads as the thing you did if you didn’t really have any idea of what you wanted to do after college, especially if you had a degree in Political Science, History, or other majors that would require further graduate work to actually advance. Even when I was in school, that reality wasn’t really true, as anyone to had to compete for a position of a medium or small law firm quite well. And don’t even get me started about the people, including several classmates of mine back in the day, who decided that they would hang our their own shingle immediately after graduating.

In reality, outside of people who graduated from the top 10 or so Law Schools, being a lawyer has never been the key to riches. If you’re willing to put the work into it, then eventually it can at least lead to a comfortable life in whatever community you decide to settle into, but times are changing. As the linked article notes, outsourcing and online resources are having a huge impact on the practice of law, and while that’s currently only having a big impact on law firms that cater to corporate clients, it’s inevitable that the trend will hit the rest of the legal profession as well. If you can draft a simple will online, why pay a lawyer a couple hundred dollars to do it, after all?

Of course, there will always be a need for attorneys. People will get charged with crimes and they will require, and indeed need, legal representation. People will get into legal disputes over contracts or need legal advice about drafting those contracts. Civil lawsuits will happen. Additionally, you can’t conduct a criminal or civil trial via cyberspace. Nonetheless, times are changing for attorneys much as they did when the era when becoming an attorney meant clerking for a lawyer and learning the law. Markets, as always, will adapt.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    As I’ve said for years, Americans are savvy consumers and that pertains to education as much as anything else. For most people law school is the means to an end. That end is a job as a lawyer. If law school does not make that possible, why pay the price?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. @Dave Schuler:

    Interestingly, law schools seem to be responding to this phenomenon by wondering how they can change the nature of legal education. While I think that’s a valid topic to consider —- the Socratic method and concentration on appellate law may not be the best way to prepare young lawyers for the reality of the practice of law — I think it kind of misses the point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. bill says:

    how many law school grads actually end up as “lawyers”? it’s a great degree and opens a lot of doors but the profession itself may be semi-saturated. i’m no attorney but i did my own divorce and can shoot down most legal threats i face for whatever reason. and all my info comes from a few minutes of online research.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  4. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Leveraging yourself to the eyeballs, stressing for three years about arcane minutiae and then having, oh, say, maybe a 50/50 shot at reasonable, gainful employment is not all that attractive. Hell, in recent years there are kids graduating law schools in the S.F. Bay Area (not remotely a cheap place in which to live) who are being consigned to wait tables to pay the rent or who are taking legal jobs which pay less than what ditch diggers earn. Seriously. It’s grim.

    If anything the greatest tragedy is that it took this long for law schools’ “dirty secret” to filter out into the public’s consciousness. Who knew any of this shit back in 1990? Sigh.

    But for those out there with skin already in the game I must say that if you’re going to be in the legal business then at least go in house and become a corporate counsel, rather than slaving to the grind at a law firm. Not having to track your life in 6 minute increments alone is worth its weight in gold. Not having to worry about getting clients, keeping clients, collecting from clients, incompetent associates, compensation committees, etc., also is worth its weight in gold. And when you’re in house counsel they’re paying you for your business judgment and your managerial acumen, not for your ability to nitpick minutiae.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  5. steve says:

    “Responding to the new environment, schools are planning cutbacks and accepting students they would not have admitted before.”

    You just knew this would be their response.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. Ben says:

    I graduated from law school in 2006 in Boston, top 5 in my class from a lower tier law school. Not only could I not get a job as a lawyer, I could barely even get an interview. The only option I had was to volunteer at a small firm on my nights and weekends, in the hope that after a year or two, I would maybe get a job as a paralegal making 30K. My wife was not thrilled with that idea, nor was I. I said screw that and kept working in IT/computers. I still talk to several of my classmates, and a lot of them are still waitresses and bartenders. The ones who did actually end up as attorneys are still making less than I do. I consider myself lucky that I only came out with about 60K in debt. I consider it a very expensive lesson learned.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  7. legion says:

    I’d be interested in comparing these numbers to those of med schools. This is all IMHO of course, but my impression is that MD salaries are still quite high in large part because MDs also have a lot of overhead expenses – medical equipment, tests, staff, etc, not to mention malpractice insurance. Most people understand that & accept the high cost of medicine. But people don’t think of student loans as “overhead”, so they don’t see a lot of reasons why legal services cost as much as they do. Mainly, I’m rambling here & trying to spark a discussion of _why_ things (legal services, as well as law school) cost as much as they do…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  8. Dave Schuler says:

    @legion:

    Not to mention that the rate at which med schools have been adding billets over the last half century has been slower than the rate of population growth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    @Ben:

    Many years ago my dad graduated at the top of his class in a top albeit not Top 15 law school. It took him five years to get a job as a lawyer. What you’re describing is not new and used to be the norm.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. bill says:

    @legion: that and the biggest monopoly in the country, you wonder why lawyers hate doctors?!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  11. al-Ameda says:

    I still think that a law degree from a good public university or one of the many private universities will put you in good standing whether you want to practice law or not. There are a lot of factors at play but, I generally believe that a law degree is valuable.

    I know many people who have law degrees, passed the bar, practiced law and then changed career paths. Each of them found there way into management or program leadership positions in their new careers . And in a wide range of positions too, e.g., municipal finance, CFO and program directors for non-profit organizations, housing authorities, venture capital firms, research analysts for management consulting firms, and so forth. In each case the rigor of law school, and the practice of law honed their analytica, research and decision making skills, and put them in good stead for their non-legal careers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  12. legion says:

    @al-Ameda: In general, I agree, but it’s becoming clear that if you go into it with a preconcieved notion of what “someone with a law degree” does for a living, you’re really going to be disappointed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  13. Peter says:

    Note that the article briefly alluded to a big drop in veterinary school attendance. That’s an interesting story itself. While on the surface there appears to be an oversupply of veterinarians and a growing degree of unemployment among veterinary school graduates, that’s because most graduates only want to treat household pets. In most parts of the country there are more than enough small-animal veterinarians to go around.

    At the same time, however, there is a serious shortage of veterinarians who treat farm animals, a shortage that’s only going to get worse as many of the existing practitioners are close to retirement. As I understand it, the situation’s so bad that some farmers and ranchers have to perform surgery themselves, often unsuccessfully. Yet not too many of the looking-for-work veterinary school graduates are willing to consider working on farm animals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Ben:

    Sounds like we are about the same age and experience. Right after college, not knowing what I should do with my life, I joined the Americorps and served a few terms. While serving, and studying for LSATs, the ABA started warning about the lack of jobs. I heeded their advice, and I’ve been so glad I did ever since. Sorry to hear about your misfortune. Still, if you have a background in IT, you will probably be making more money in 5 years than many new lawyers will be in 10.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Just Me says:

    This is all IMHO of course, but my impression is that MD salaries are still quite high in large part because MDs also have a lot of overhead expenses – medical equipment, tests, staff, etc, not to mention malpractice insurance. Most people understand that & accept the high cost of medicine.

    I would also add that insurance hides much of the cost of medical care. People don’t care that a Doctor visit costs $175 because at most they pay a $25 co-pay so they view the cost of the visit as the co-pay amount not necessarily that plus the portion insurance covers.

    Attorneys do not have insurance and people see how much their service costs and decide whether it is worth it to pay the full amount.

    As for people catching on-if prospective students start thinking about the math they will realize that taking out 100k or more in student loans for minimal job prospects isn’t worth it. People applying to law school aren’t stupid people-they are going to look elsewhere than law school if they want to have a career or at the very least a job that will allow them to pay back student debt.

    The student debt bubble in general is about to pop. And it isn’t just going to be law schools wondering how to deal with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. Lynn says:

    “Responding to the new environment, schools are planning cutbacks and accepting students they would not have admitted before.”

    A number of years ago, shortly after I moved to MN, the legislature decided that those with only master’s degrees in psychology would not be able to practice independently after a certain date (some 3 years in the future). The response of the schools was to expand enormously, taking many students they would not have accepted earlier.

    And such a positive effect it had on the level of practice!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. grumpy realist says:

    I’m just about to get out of law school, luckily with no debt. Have been working full-time and going to law school part-time. I may never practice as a lawyer–but at least I will never be scared of a contract or a Bill of Lading ever again. Or a Term Sheet.

    Speaking from my experience, you’re seeing more IP firms working in patent prosecution kicking out their patent attorneys and replacing them with patent agents.

    Most of my classmates with vanilla backgrounds are finding it VERY difficult to find jobs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. grumpy realist says:

    @Just Me: Only a very foolish attorney practices without malpractice insurance. My entire job is in fact paid out of the lowering on malpractice insurance I provide our firm.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Drew says:

    Tough titty, said the kitty, when the milk ran dry….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  20. Pharoah Narim says:

    Yaaaaay!!!!! To many Lawyers per capital—the herd was bound to thin naturally.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  21. Moosebreath says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I think Just Me meant that the clients of lawyers pay the entire bill out of pocket (there is no legal insurance, the way patients have medical insurance from Cigna or Aetna or Kaiser).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. rudderpedals says:

    I loved law school, everything from arguing with teachers and other students to reading moldy oldies and leeching up history. I’d go back for an LLM in a heartbeat if I could make a wish.

    But attending on a student loan? No way. Work your way through school (the rules didn’t allow it when 20 years ago where I went) or marry a sugar mommy.

    Anyone regret going to law school?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  23. grumpy realist says:

    @Moosebreath: Aha, insurance on the other side. Which actually is now starting to be available as well. For standard filings I don’t think it’s very obtainable, but to pay for the costs of any litigation your company gets swept up into? Getting more and more prevalent. Ditto in getting legal insurance to avoid tort claims from any guests who are invited onto your property and get injured.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. grumpy realist says:

    @rudderpedals: My problem with law school has been with the difficulty of treating it with any seriousness. If I have a time crunch between an emergency at work and homework for class, work wins.

    Oh well–I keep telling mysef the old saw: “what do you call someone who has just barely passed the Bar Exam?” “Attorney such-and-such.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Just Me says:

    Only a very foolish attorney practices without malpractice insurance.

    I wasn’t referring to malpractice, but that people do not have the legal equivalent of medical insurance.

    If I go to the doctor, I write a $25 check and that’s all I pay for the visit no matter how much the actual cost.

    If I hire a lawyer, I am paying for whatever hourly rate the attorney charges which isn’t going to be $25 (and I realize there are some exceptions but if I want a lawyer to draw up a will they aren’t doing it for free or for $25 and I know exactly what the lawyer charges per hour, that isn’t the case for most people when it comes to their medical insurance).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. rudderpedals says:

    A grumpy realist is going to take a realistic attitude towards the bar. Passing it the first time’s important to moving on but after a few years you’re the only one who’s going to care how you did.

    At least do the homework some time even if you never turn it in. The weirdest things are useful later on when something tickles the memory. Undoubtedly you’ve also been told you’ll never have as much time to work all this material as you do now. It’s true.

    Do you have post-graduation plans?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. Barry says:

    @bill: ” it’s a great degree and opens a lot of doors but the profession itself may be semi-saturated. ”

    The job statistics prove beyond doubt that the profession is not semi-saturated, but fully saturated.

    As for a JD opening any doors beyond the legal world, I’ve seen this asserted a zillion times, but I’ve never seen any evidence in favor of it. Which pretty much proves the opposite.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Barry says:

    “…Actually, we have an exploding demand for both ordinary folk lawyers and big corporate ones.” – Gillian K. Hadfield, professor of law and economics at the University of Southern California.

    From: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/business/09law.html?pagewanted=all
    ” Since 2008, some 15,000 attorney and legal-staff jobs at large firms have vanished, according to a Northwestern Law study.”

    Looks like the law school definition of ‘exploding demand’ is not – well, the honest person’s definition.

    BTW, read ‘Inside the Law School Scam’ blog for a lot more information.

    Among the many other things they’ve pointed out, it’s only since ~2011 that decent information has been made publicly available. Before then, law schools boasted of high employment rates, but didn’t mention that they were counting part-time, temporary and minimum-wage non-law jobs as employed. It’s now known that they don’t count the salaries of part-time and temporary jobs in their figures, so they were probably doing it back then.

    It certainly makes the statistics rosier when *any* job is counted for employment, but only the better salaries are counted for mean salaried.

    I’d have thought that this was fraud.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. Barry says:

    @Dave Schuler: “As I’ve said for years, Americans are savvy consumers and that pertains to education as much as anything else. For most people law school is the means to an end. That end is a job as a lawyer. If law school does not make that possible, why pay the price? ”

    This is repeating a comment (and agreeing with Dave!), but it’s worth emphasizing that law schools were publishing frankly fraudulent statistics for quite some time (picking and choosing quite different definitions of ‘employed for being counted as employed’ vs. ‘employed for having the salary counted’). In addition, this frank lie by Gillian above, is far from the worst that I’ve seen from law school professors and deans. This has been publicized for only a couple of years now, and we’re seeing a massive market adjustment, in the teeth of a labor market which pushes young people into graduate school.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Interestingly, law schools seem to be responding to this phenomenon by wondering how they can change the nature of legal education. While I think that’s a valid topic to consider —- the Socratic method and concentration on appellate law may not be the best way to prepare young lawyers for the reality of the practice of law — I think it kind of misses the point. ”

    As has been pointed out repeatedly (Inside the Law School Scam, and other blogs discussing this), there is one overwhelming problem with legal education – if you are not attending the top 10-20 law schools, the tuition is far beyond the bump in earnings.

    Law school costs too much, and produces too many lawyers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. Barry says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Just seconding, to take advantage of probably the only time I’ll agree with the Tsar, here.

    BTW – those in-house gigs? Everybody wants one, and there is no shortage of highly-experienced lawyers seeking them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  32. Barry says:

    @steve:

    Another: “Responding to the new environment, schools are planning cutbacks and accepting students they would not have admitted before.”

    Steve: “You just knew this would be their response.”

    There are a lot of what are called ‘sh*t-law’ schools, who are already taking just about anybody who can sign their name on the LSAT, and which will not be subsidized by a university (they add zero prestige, or are private stand-alone institutions). They’re going to go as deep into the muck as they have to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. grumpy realist says:

    @rudderpedals: Unless someone comes up and drops a great IP job paying >$150K/year into my lap immediately, am going back into the thicket of entrepreneurial stuff. I realize that the area I’m aiming for (seed venture capital) is the ultimate shark tank, but am tired of trying to fit myself into the pigeonholes of positions that standard jobs offer.

    It’s the same ol’ same ol’…..if you’re an engineer and speak Japanese, you can either get hired for your engineering skills OR for your Japanese skills but never both. And when corporations DO have a job for both, they refuse to pay extra beyond vanilla level.

    I decided to go to law school because I wanted either a law degree or an MBA and the law degree looked more interesting. Wouldn’t have gone if I had had to take out loans, however. Got a scholarship the first year and have been steadily ambling my way through the rest.
    Do think that I will give education a rest at this point. I have six degrees–that’s enough.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  34. Barry says:

    @Dave Schuler: “Many years ago my dad graduated at the top of his class in a top albeit not Top 15 law school. It took him five years to get a job as a lawyer. What you’re describing is not new and used to be the norm.”

    And he probably paid a third or less in tuition (adjusting for inflation). That makes a huge difference.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. Murray says:

    Google “lawyers per capita” and enjoy comparing with other countries :o)

    Seems to me the drop in applicants simply follows the drop in hiring rates because … there are just too many f..ing lawyers in this country already.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. Barry says:

    @al-Ameda: This has been covered on othe blogs. In short, it’s of course *possible* to make a career swtich out of law, but that’s true for everything. And is certainly not worth $100k on up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. grumpy realist says:

    @Barry: There are in fact quite a few lawsuits against law schools because of the overly-rosy statistics.

    (I would have thought any institution would think better than pissing off a bunch of young, hotshot lawyers with time on their hands, but that’s just me….)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  38. Barry says:

    @grumpy realist: Grumpy, I think that judges have been tossing them out, under the theory that law schools are part of the elites, and are therefore above the law pre-law people are ‘sophisticated consumers’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Barry says:

    @Peter: “At the same time, however, there is a serious shortage of veterinarians who treat farm animals, a shortage that’s only going to get worse as many of the existing practitioners are close to retirement. As I understand it, the situation’s so bad that some farmers and ranchers have to perform surgery themselves, often unsuccessfully. Yet not too many of the looking-for-work veterinary school graduates are willing to consider working on farm animals. ”

    I’ve heard of this, but not any good figures. How bad is the ‘shortage’? I’m using quotes because the standard definition of a ‘shortage’ of workers today is that the employer can’t get enough skilled people at minimum wage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  40. rudderpedals says:

    @grumpy realist: A sound plan and yes 6 degrees are enough for now. Multilingual too I bet. Latch onto the VC people when they come by and don’t let them go. Geeking is a lot more satisfying than lawyering, IMO.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  41. Peter says:

    @Barry:

    I’ve heard anecdotes, but no statistics. It might even be that there aren’t any reliable statistics.

    One reason given for the shortage of farm-animal veterinarians (for the moment assuming that there really is a shortage) is that about 75% of veterinary school graduates are female, and except sometimes for horses, female veterinarians don’t like to work on large animals.

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  42. Barry says:

    @Peter: “I’ve heard anecdotes, but no statistics. It might even be that there aren’t any reliable statistics.”

    What I’ll bet is that people are not willing to do 24/7 service at an hourly rate which comes closer to minimum wages.

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  43. Barry says:

    @Peter: “I’ve heard anecdotes, but no statistics. It might even be that there aren’t any reliable statistics.”

    BTW, I’ll bet that there are. I imagine that the vet schools have a decent idea, but they, like the law schools, don’t want to let the ugly truth out (in the case of vets, the ugly truth would be that to make their claimed salaries, you have to do 24/7 large animal work, with an hourly rate that’s frighteningly low).

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  44. Justinian says:

    @Barry:

    Barry, commenting on the dubious statistics and statements some schools of law put forth to lure unsuspecting students into enrolling, concluded:

    I’d have thought that this was fraud.

    Exactly this point was the subject of litigation in the Courts of the State of New York. In an article, “A Law-School Lesson, Learned the Hard Way,” printed on page A64 of The Chronicle of Higher Education on January 18, 2013, Ben Trachtenberg wrote:

    “Graduates of [New York Law School] had accused it of issuing alumni-employment statistics that painted an unreasonably optimistic picture of their job prospects after graduation.”

    The lawsuit was dismissed by the court of original jurisdiction, and the dismissal was upheld on appeal. The judge dismissing the case wrote:

    “[P]laintiffs could not have reasonably relied on NYLS’s alleged misrepresentations . . . because they had ample information from additional sources and thus the opportunity to discover the then-existing employment prospects . . . through the exercise of reasonable due diligence.”

    Mr. Trachtenberg’s article continues:

    “Similar cases against law schools have been dismissed in Illinois and Michigan. Others are pending.”

    Lies, damned lies, and statistics, now as always. And it is still legal.

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  45. Peter says:

    My question is: where exactly are the tens of thousands of people who have decided not to pursue law going? Presumably they lack job ready skills as they were interested in attending law school, which now lacks ROI sense. Do you have any insight? Will these people simply become part of the ever growing underemployed pie?

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