Friday, July 26, 2013

The Millon Dollar Law Degree?

A new study by Michael Simkovic and Frank McIntyre argues that a law degree gives the holder one million dollars more income than someone who only has a bachelor’s degree. Where can I even start? The usual suspects are defending the study, wanting the gravy train to keep running a little while longer. But, is the hypothesis of this study even remotely plausible? Let’s take a look.

Elis Mystal of Above The Law did a great job picking the study apart. Firstly, this study encompassed the period from 1996 to 2008. Hmmm, when exactly did the bottom fall out of the legal job market? Oh right: 2010. Second, the study did not factor in tuition costs. What??? The explanation from Simkovic is that including the tuition costs was too complicated because students all pay different prices. Well Michael, how about using an average? The data is not hard to find, because I found it in 20 seconds using Google. The omission of this data is like bragging you got a great deal on a 1985 Caprice Classic you bought for $600, while ignoring the fact that you will likely spend at least twice that amount in gas each year. Simkovic responded to Mystal and other critics with more fancy charts, but the major flaws in the study remain.

Mystal points the reader to some studies that are actually truthful. Simkovic displays the type of blatant intellectual dishonesty that law schools and their minions need to employ to keep their delusions intact. They use charts and “data” to delude readers into thinking all is well. They will tell you that over a lifetime, a law degree will pay off handsomely. This study fails to account for the fact that the outcomes in the legal profession are bimodally distributed, more so over the past five years. If 20% of grads are making $80,000 or more and another 20% are making less than $20,000, of course you can show an average of $60,000 in yearly earnings. But this method ignores the fact that the legal profession is a boom or bust proposition. Like the country at large, the middle class is rapidly disappearing.

Studies such as this one fall apart under scrutiny like law school lies do. But, the legal education industrial complex (to borrow a term from Con Law) requires more and more sacrifice on the part of young people so that law professors can have the highest paid part time job in America. But, as long as this type of drivel has outlets that will publicize it, naive young people will continue to fatten the pockets of Brian Leiter and his cohorts.

28 comments:

  1. The study compares cream to milk and determines that cream is richer. QED!

    It compares students from the top 25% of law school (students with undergrad GPAs in the 3.75 range) to students from the top 25% of college (students with undergrad GPAs in the 3.1 range)

    It then compares students from the bottom 25% of law school (students with undergrad GPAs in the 3.2 range) to students in the bottom 25% of college (students with undergrad GPAs in the 2.2 range)

    What it doesn't do is compare is similarly situated students

    ReplyDelete
  2. But this method ignores the fact that the legal profession is a boom or bust proposition.

    It's just like poker tournaments or jackpot lotteries; winner takes all...and the winners get all the attention. The losers are ignored, especially in compiling data for these charts and data.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Obviously the word about the value of the prestigious, versatile JD is not out. Otherwise Indiana Tech would have been flooded with applications instead of having a TOTAL ENROLLMENT OF 30 students for next year. Can you imagine being at an upstart, unaccredited law school with no alumni and 29 classmates? I truly feel for these kids, but they would have been better off investing with Madoff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indiana Tech:

      "Our goal is to begin with a charter class of 100 students. Eventually the class size will reach 120 a class and the total enrollment of the law school is expected to be approximately 360 students."

      http://www.indianatech.edu/Academics/law/Pages/admission.aspx

      woops

      Delete
    2. Latest word is that 22--yep, count 'em 22--students have paid seat deposits for Indiana Tech Law. I guess a sucker isn't born every minute.

      Delete
    3. According to the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly, Indiana ITT sTench only got 22 mouth breathers to enroll. Jesus, that's embarassing!

      http://www.fwbusiness.com/news/latest/businessweekly/article_1b94188f-0825-52e2-8c1c-21ef647f9cf6.html

      Delete
    4. I'm sure the professors will take this opportunity to give lots of individual attention to the students.

      Delete
    5. Not enroll, pay a deposit. Some could still wise up before classes begin and any of them who don't head for the hills when they look around them on the first day and see 21 or fewer classmates deserve whatever happens to them.

      Delete
  4. The numbers are too simple to require any research or studies.

    I graduated in 1985 from a T25. Law school doubled my earning capacity, and if you count what I earned while in law school five years after graduation I had broken even. I had recouped the entire cost of law school including living expenses as well as the three years of lost earnings. BUT . . .

    Tuition was $8,000 per year. I came out owing only $10,000. Biglaw had three associates per partner, midlaw had two. Firms were getting bigger and bigger - until 1990. At age 30 I had broken even. A 2013 graduate making four times what I made in 1985 but carrying 10 to 15 times the debt will not break even at 30, very few will make four times as much and of those far from all will make it for very long. Loads of lawyers now make less than I did in the 1980s.

    As I watch the business/profession swirl down the porcelain bowl faster and faster I truly wonder how close to a million I will get, but I see the million dollar earnings advantage going to only a tiny elite of this year's graduates, and fewer and fewer in future years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I made over 7 figures on one case this year in addition to my other fees.. Yes I got lucky getting the case, but never would have gotten it to begin with without a JD and some experience under my belt. So it is not impossible for the JD to pay off.

      Delete
  5. Michael Simkovic was a consultant at McKinsey after graduating from Harvard Law. He left because, among other reasons, he didn't like the intellectual dishonesty of the consulting profession. Rather than looking at the evidence and drawing a conclusion, consultants were paid to find a particular result and make the evidence fit it. He is the type of person who would be morally repulsed by "studies" written by tobacco company "scientists," "proving" that cigarette smoking is healthy. He is a nice guy.
    And yet, he has written the law school equivalent of one of those tobacco studies and put it out for the whole world to see. He may claim that the assumptions of the study are sound, and that his conclusion is rock solid. However, we can test those claims with a simple question: does anyone think, for even one second, if his study had found that law school was a terrible investment, that the study would ever have seen the light of day?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great point. Simkovic, in this instance, has become nothing more than the "expert witness" for the law school industry, backed (not surprisingly) by the law school industry. Even if there is a modicum of truth to Simkovic's conclusions, they are pressing this fast and hard to the point where it extrapolates too far.

      Remember that 2010 Indiana Tech "feasibility study", where they looked at all the data and concluded how Indiana desperately needed a fifth law school? Yeah. Make a decision, then find the data that supports your conclusion.

      Delete
    2. What's more, duped, Notre Dame Law School has a truly national student body and contributes relatively few to the Indiana bar for its size. Nevertheless, the market in Indiana is as hopelessly glutted as it is elsewhere.

      Delete
  6. As far as I am concerned, the students enrolled at Indiana TTTTTech did not even bother to conduct basic online research. The "professors" and administrators will not stay in business long, if they cannot attract larger pools of suckers.

    Plus, the racketeering influenced and corrupt organization known as the American Bar Association has ensured big-ass compensation for "legal academics." These cockroaches will not allow any struggling or new law school to be an exception. After all, other commodes may try the same thing. As we all know, these "educators" would rather eat horse droppings than take on actual jobs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What if they had a law school and nobody came?

      Delete
    2. This month alone, I've twice been cold-called by the ABA, trying to get me to renew my defunct membership and offering all kinds of free membership services. They are clearly scraping the bottom of the barrel if they have called me twice, in my "JD-preferred" career, after so many years. It's laughable.

      Delete
    3. Same here - we were offered a sharp discount for ABA dues if we formed a group (5 or more out of 30+ lawyers here). Didn't happen.

      Delete
    4. And I bet they had to offer serious discounts to get most of those 30 to even consider this rathole. So only 30 out of an anticipated 100 students for their first year, and few of those probably paying full sticker. If things don't improve drastically for them next year, how how long do you think their backers are going to keep pumping money into it?

      Delete
  7. Any chance of putting a little spark into this blog?

    ReplyDelete
  8. The "million dollar" degree?

    Where has law school gotten off to thinking that tuition can be a function of the supposed 'earning power' of the degree? Certainly other disciplines can't think this way. Undergrad tuition for English, History, Poli-Sci, Anthropology, etc. would be approximately $37.90 per year, with a 10% discount for one-time upfront payment.

    And since law school clearly does think itself entitled to price itself based on salaries, then why are they allowed to cherry-pick the top 1% of the creme-de-la-creme salaries out there?

    If we're gonna have cheerleaders for law school, why not:

    "Go Law, go!
    Go Law, go!
    Around the bowl, and down the hole.
    Go Law, go!"

    ReplyDelete
  9. Indiana wants me!

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is the type of thinking that a complete lack of peer review or intellectual rigor produce.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The 22 Indiana Tech lemmings defy logic. But at least they avoided the seton hall law TOILET!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been waiting for this comment! Whoever you are, I laugh every time I read your comments...even though I know the slipperiness of the valvoline scam dean is no laughing matter.

      Delete
  12. "Firstly, this study encompassed the period from 1996 to 2008. Hmmm, when exactly did the bottom fall out of the legal job market? Oh right: 2010."

    As has been pointed out elsewhere, starting the survey with 1996 is also very convenient, as it misses most of the slump that the legal job market was in during the early/mid 1990s. This was caused by the economic downturn of the early '90s, but the legal sector didn't recover until several years after the rest of the economy did. The last good year for law school hiring was 1990; things probably bottomed out in 1993, remained noticeably depressed through 1996, and didn't get back to "normal" until 1998. By starting the survey with 1996, they missed all but the tail end of this period.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ^Exactly. If you let me choose the year range, I can show you a study proving that Enron is a great stock to buy...or that adjustable rate mortgages are great securitized assets...or that the market for horseshoes is only going up. A bunch of cherry-picked data proves nothing, except that someone wanted to make some data prove a point.

      Delete
  13. Indiana Tech. I can't believe that anyone wants to go to a school that employed Andre Pond Cumming, the whitest black man with a name that sounds like a pervert jacking off into a goldfish pond. A professor of hip hop? This toilet has like four professors, and half of them look like they have never practiced law for a day in their lives. The guy is a clown. The dean is a clown. All of them are there because they were pushed out of their prior schools for being shitty professors.

    Law and hip hop? A JD where you're taught by that fool for half your classes?

    What a fucking joke.

    ReplyDelete