Monday, July 22, 2013

CounterPoint #1: Law School Tuition is too LOW

Previously, I told you, my dear readers, that I decided to become a law school advocate. (Is shill a bad word? Advocate sounds better). Today I become the number one advocate on the internet for legal education services and begin balancing the ridiculous rhetoric heretofore seen on this "site". I think it is time to have some counterpoints to respond to the lying scambloggers. You are too quick to blame law schools for your own failures, as if you were not responsible for your own life decisions. Ridiculous.

So my first point to make is that contrary to what the Toileteers claim, tuition at law school today is not too high. In fact, based on what you get, it is too low.

An article from 2011 about designer jeans discusses that a pair of jeans, made domestically in the USA, cannot be sold for under $200. Most jeans are imported, because as it turns out, 99% of jeans bought today are sold for under $50. There was a chart and explanation to justify the cost of domestically produced jeans. Many commenters did not like the fact that jeans could cost so much, when they are used to themselves paying much less. But that "is what it is", as dumb people (non-JD holders) like to say.

When it comes to domestically producing something, things just cost a lot in the United States. Despite the myth of the US not being socialized and having a "free market" (you get taxed for free, that is) it is similar to other western "socialist" countries in that we have mucho regulations, laws, agencies, state local and federal, environmental and employment issues to comply with, all of which cost money. True, universities & law schools are generally tax-exempt non-profits, but ignore that for now, it does not concern you. To wit, our schooling of you dear students costs lots of money. Your tuition goes right back to you. We need to operate physical plant buildings, heat, air conditioning; did you think that paid for itself? Duh. We have to pay our stonemasons and architects: see? Not to mention the landscaping costs—take a look at Lewis & Clark's foliage, which some students on "TLS" said makes it worth the tuition alone.  It just costs a lot to provide the services you students need; not want, but need. Tuition increases because demands made on us by you increase. It is an increase, but a student-driven one. Which of you did not demand that your professors get two-year sabbaticals? Or that they get guest houses overseeing some large body of water? It wasn't from the administration, I can guarantee that. We don't even like professors much, especially ones with blogs. Maybe a few deans got some bennies like that, but most of us are working hard at working for you. 

Perhaps I haven't persuaded you that paying the equivalent of 4-5 new Mercedes isn't worth getting a degree already held by over a million people in this country alone. So be it; but look at the other opportunities, JD Plus we call them. The best thing about law school is if you play nice, you can be an advocate, like me, and advocating a position is what we were (in theory) trained to do. Money isn't everything; a J.D. is as precious as a little cute fat baby. What price could you put on the head of a cute little newborn? Ridiculous; how dare you then try to price a doctoral education in law. 



  1. Let us not forget the guildhall. That was the medieval system that restricted entry into a craft or trade in order to protect the incomes of those already in it. It lives on in some contexts, such as the public schools.

    Need a teacher to teach high school seniors English Literature? Candidate one has a Ph.D. from a prestigious university, ten years' experience teaching in private prep schools and has authored several well-regarded books on teaching English Literature at the high school level. Candidate two just made it out of East Podunk State this spring "summa cum lucky" and has not quite mastered grammar, syntax and punctuation.

    But candidate two has a meaningless "certification" and candidate one does not, so number two gets the job. Screw the kids.

    Before Harvard started the concept of the modern law school aspiring lawyers "read law" in the offices of existing lawyers, and the latter group put reasonable controls on admissions to the bar, balancing the risks of offending potential clients by running a racket against the risks of flooding the market.

    Under the law school model the gatekeepers to the bar, the law schools, have no incentive but recruiting as many students as possible and milking them for every dime they can. Up until recently glutting the market had no effect on them.

    Why do public schools get away with it? They are not subject to anti-trust laws.

  2. And don't forget: in this digital age, it is VITAL that law schools construct enormous, "state of the art" libraries! After all, where else would the victims study parsed public record, in their ten pound casebooks?!?!

    Plus, the students "need" gyms, lush grounds, new carpeting, 12 story law buildings, etc. Forget the fact that painfully few law students will ever use the gym or basketball court. If the facilities look nice, that might bump up the commode's USN&WR ranking by 1-2 slots. Because that beats the hell out of being in an eight-way tie for 69th greatest law school in the country!

  3. The hits keep on coming. Check out this cover story.

    1. Rebuttal of this article in Slate this morning:

      However, it looks like many of the commenters are pointing out the problems with going to law school and the lack of professional positions available.

  4. Don't obsess on law school anymore. Focus on the over all.

    Law School is a scam because the whole legal profession into which it feeds is now little more a pile of fetid shit. And I mean fetid, stinking shit with maggots crawling in it. No stability, no upward mobility, no prestige within the larger soceity, and absolute gutter behavior and cannibalistic tactics in firms. Utter filth. Waste of a career and waste of a life.

    Check out The New Republic for July 21st. Its cover article is called, "The Last Days of Big Law: You can't imagine the terror when the money dries up."

    The whole thing's a money quote.

    Law school tuition was based on these supposed BigLaw salaries. You can't imagine the terror when the money dries up.

    A copy of this article should be sent to every one of the parents of this fall's little lemmings. Every person who enters law school this fall has got some serious denial going on.

    That's The New Republic, July 21, You can't imagine the terror when the money dries up.

    1. Perhaps students still don't understand the bimodal distribution of starting income for lawyers. Plenty of lemmings go into $100k+ of debt for degrees from lower-ranked schools. Even they can't be so delusional as to think they are getting into BigLaw. But perhaps they think that although they won't get a $150k job from BigLaw, perhaps they might get one in the next tier down for $100k p/a. But the next tier down actually pays $40k.

    2. These students have never heard of bimodal. Probably the closest they've heard of is the word 'bipolar.'

      Not only do few understand the bimodal concept, but they are lulled into the psuedo-logical (?) assumption or quasi-calculation that because a $160,000/year job is stressful and demands an 80-hr week, then an $80,000/year job is only half as stressful and demands only a 40-hour week. Anything less than $80,000 is approaching stress-free and thus requires less than 40 hours. Under this psuedo-logic, law jobs paying under $50,000/yr simply cannot exist because they're off the bottom of the chart.

      Yeah, right.

      And then there are the further --totally unknown to students-- concepts of abnormally short job shelf-lives, revolving-door associateship, the stigma resulting from performance-based 'layoffs' (which are used to mask the revolving-door tactic) and the fact that most firms are looking chiefly for replaceable infantry to perform trench warfare (cannon fodder)--not generals.

      Thank God for the Internet. Sunshine is the best of disinfectants, and word is slowly spreading. Yet today, we're still at the point where the sunlight has only reached the front end of the beast --i.e., law school. It's becoming more widely known that law school is overpriced, that most law schools are not worth the tuition, and that many graduates won't get jobs.

      Great. Nice start.

      But as Karen Carpenter said, "We've only just begun." Sunshine must fall on all parts of the beast's body. If you're one of the half (or so) that get jobs, what's your job actually like, how long will it last, and what is the prognosis for its future?

      Law is a great bait-and-switch. It's so obviously based totally on the BigLaw hiring and retention model, the BigLaw hiring salaries, the BigLaw employent practices of using new associates as glorified paralegals (thus excusing their need to know any nuts-and-bolts facts about practice).

      I can understand why people bought tickets on Titanic in England and got on the boat there... but why would you take a ferry out to the ship in the mid-Atlantic, buy a ticket, and wait to get aboard when the ship is dead in the water, and her bow is slowly beginning to go down, while her stern is begining its arch skyward?

    3. Well said 7:55 a.m. I held on to my job for a little over two years in a three atty. firm. That ended. Now its God knows what. Any person going should have some certain employment lined up or can pay for all of law school w/o loans. And if they are smart to get into a top school then they should reverse and go into engineering even if it requires a second bachelors. See you at the soup lines for lawyers or at the revolution.

  5. Quite honestly if I was advising a young person on choosing a college major and career choice I dont know what I would say. It takes a few years or more to receive education for any career choice and when thats over, the career prospects may be totally different. And this can be due to unforeseeable factors beyond one's control. For example IT is becoming glutted. And STEM may be promising now but in a few years how many of those jobs will be offshored?

    1. Nearly all areas that require higher education are glutted. Those that are even remotely fun and sexy or involve writing and thinking only are completely dead- nobody wants writers and thinkers. Apparently about half of Biology and Chemistry Ph.D.s can't find jobs. Imagine that - you have a Chemistry Ph.D. and can synthesize compounds and drugs from raw components, but you can't get a job.
      I suppose the best bets would be Engineering of some sort, Electrical or Mechanical, or maybe Computer Science or Accounting. Right now Comp Sci is the most popular major at Stanford, so, who knows, maybe that field will be glutted in a few years.
      Or some obscure, niche area like welding or cosmetic dentistry or xray-technicians. It's going to be a tough world for Generation X or Y or whatever generation we are on right now. Probably the world will be divided into those who have rich parents who will help them, and those whose parents can't or won't.

  6. I was having this internal conversation with regards to giving young people advice back in the 1990s.

    I sure can tell you what you DON'T want to do.

    It's naively optimistic to think things may be totally different (read 'better') in 3-4 years for law. Law ain't gonna be better. It will be worse or at best the same as today. The saturation graduation steadily conducted by law schools over the past 25 years has created an unstable market. It's only gotten worse each year. Like European imperialism, racial segregation, and male-only voting, law cannot and will not return to its so-called 'golden age' of yester-year. No one but lawyers wants it to anyway.

    The Recession of 2008 was the straw that broke the camel's back, and the Internet now thankfully allows people to get the word out.

    IT and STEM may well go south. We just don't know.

    But the impossibility of landing a law job or practice THAT JUSTIFIES TODAY'S TUITION means law is definitely off the table.

  7. Has anyone else noticed the amount that law professors are paid per hour is roughly comparable to what a top Big Law partner makes? For example, a law professor working an average of 5 hours per week and making $250,000 per year is comparable on a per hour basis to a high level partner working 50 hours per week and making $2.5 million per year.

  8. Reality preempts satire. A couple of econometrics wizards say that a JD delivers an average million dollar lifetime premium over a BA, whether you practice law or not. Here is the link for those who have not yet perused this masterpiece.

    The study instructs: "The economic value of a law degree turns not on whether law graduates practice law, but rather on how much more readily they find work with the law degree than they would have without, and how much more they earn with the law degree than they would have without."

    Pretty strong argument for getting a law degree. It is worth an average of a million dollars even if you don't practice law. That is average, of course. For the bottom quartile-- your Tom Jefferson and Cooley grads and such, the premium is only $350,000. I am not sure how Cooley grads obtain this $350 grand above and beyond what they could have earned with a JD. Maybe Cooley diplomas have winning lottery numbers printed on back.

    The real victim here is the poor law schools that charge only $100,000-$200,000 in tuition over the course of three years to provide this bonanza of a million dollars, and $350,000 for the losers.

  9. Beware. Irony comes across far more effectively (and clearly) in person than it does on the electronic or written page.

  10. For a laugh:

    1. For a "laugh"? Yeah, I get the irony, but really. The Scamblogging movement has forgotten that the sheer gall of the education industry makes irony a rather difficult tool to employ.

      The Washington Monthly's little piece referenced by 10:11 is an excellent example of the reasons why this whole educational scam still has legs.

      Rather than purporting to survey the situation and then give analysis, it's written directly in response to The New Republic's recent article. Hmmm... is the publication interested in accurately surveying the legal situation ... or in spinning?

      The little piece ventures to conclude that "The 'crisis' in the legal profession is just about the fancy law firms."

      Love the inverted commas around 'crisis.' And the notion of "fancy law firms."

      The article proceeds to argue:

      "The vast majority, 72 percent of law school graduates, go somewhere else. They go into public interest law. Or they become assistant district attorneys or public defenders. And many, many of them just work for smaller firms.

      And these people are all fine."

      Utterly stunning. Shocking. And worst of all... dangerous.

      Can we please have a discussion about this little piece of harmful misinformation?

      You can't be ironic when the conversation is being phrased in these terms.

    2. 10:11 here. The author of this fun piece is a graduate of Cornell University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. And yet, his keen editing skills seem to have fallen short on this sentence: "These places are now probably become more efficient because the senior attorneys are more experienced." Not even sure what he's arguing there, but it's clear this article is not based in facts, research, or reality. But don't worry. Even if you're not at a "fancy" firm, you're still "fine." It is dangerous and willfully ignorant of the real situation hordes of new graduates face.

    3. As I read the article, I continued to check the top of the page expecting to see "The Onion." Nope. Those are the actual views of the author. Wow.

    4. Hmmm . . Does the article even address the fact that most grads dont even get real legal jobs? Or that most who do dont earn enough to pay off six figure debt?

  11. From The National Review Today:

    "Government-subsidized borrowing produces bubbles, as we saw with the millennial housing boom. When economic and political conditions cause those subsidies to be reduced, the irrational and unsupportable nature of the underlying economic arrangement is thereby exposed, with predictable consequences: soaring finance costs, defaults, and generally dysfunctional markets. In this case, the consequences are likely to be borne by people who took out outsize loans when they were teenagers without the financial sophistication to calculate whether that journalism degree really was worth $150,000 in debt. And unlike mortgages and most other forms of consumer borrowing, student loans are treated like taxes and criminal restitution: They cannot in normal circumstances be discharged in bankruptcy."