Thursday, March 20, 2014

Canadian Woes

One of the constant criticisms of the scamblog movement is that we are disgruntled JD grads who couldn't hack it, therefore we make s*!t up and impugn the good name of U.S. legal education so as to make ourselves feel better.  If that were indeed the case, then one would expect a different country with a somewhat different system to perhaps have different results.  Well, it appears that Canada is also struggling with the current state of legal education as well:
 
Law students are walking, talking dollar signs for Ontario universities. They bring with them hefty provincial government subsidies and that priceless higher-ed asset: “pre[f]tige.” [Fixed it for you.  Ed.]  Law students don’t require expensive laboratories or the latest and greatest equipment — the major cost to the university, by and large, is for the professors hired to instruct them. That cost generally doesn’t increase if a few extra bums are squeezed into seats in the lecture hall, which is why universities seem to welcome as many law students as possible.
 
The recent news from the law school at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, therefore, should come as no surprise. According to a memo recently sent to students, the school is currently weighing the idea of increasing its enrolment by nearly one-third in order to meet greater revenue demands. That means the school’s target admission number, which was set at approximately 165 in 2013, may rise by another 35 or 50 students.
 
This is great news, right? If there’s anything Ontario needs more of (besides expert panels on transit infrastructure), it’s lawyers.
 
Or maybe not. Ontario is experiencing anything but a drought of law school grads. According to the Law Society of Upper Canada, of the 1,750 students graduated from Ontario law schools in 2013, one in seven was expected not to find an articling position. That’s up from 12% of unplaced grads two years ago, and 6% five years ago. Obviously, the problem of too few positions for too many grads is only getting worse. So why on earth would law schools consider pumping out even more articling candidates?
 
The answer lies in those walking, talking dollar signs. The issue is not unique to Queen’s. Indeed, Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, just opened a new law school this year, which will add an additional 60 candidates to the graduate pool each year. Other law schools in the province have also increased their admission numbers, including the University of Ottawa — with its first-year registrants jumping from 271 in 2007 to 381 in 2010 — and the University of Windsor, which has added about 60 spots since 1997...
 
Perhaps the plight of unplaced law school grads hasn’t reached the “crisis point” of their teacher counterparts, which is why Queen’s might get away with opening its admission doors. But to do so would be to ignore the weakening job prospects for its current students, as well as law students across the province. Queen’s could opt to raise its law tuition as a means of garnering additional revenue, but obviously, that would not bring in the same type of change as some 50 new government-subsidized students. So, the prevailing question remains: How many dollar signs can you squeeze into a lecture hall?
 
But wait, there's more:
 
As many in the University of Toronto law class of 2014 prepare to graduate with staggering debt loads, some students say the choice of convocation speaker is adding insult to injury.  The speaker will be Ron Daniels, the former dean to blame for massive tuition hikes.
 
“The man largely responsible for our high tuition is coming back to pick up a free degree. Oh, the irony,” wrote student Daanish Samadmoten in an opinion piece for the law school’s independent newspaper Ultra Vires.
 
“I find it insulting that the man who spearheaded an initiative that has significantly contributed to the unnecessary stress in my life and the lives of many of my classmates (now and for years to come) is being honoured and rewarded at my convocation. It’s an insensitive choice at best.”
 
Daniels, now president of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, was dean of the U of T law school from 1995 to 2005. In that time he launched an ambitious and controversial plan to put U of T in competition with big-name American law schools...
 
The skyrocketing fees, which increase by the maximum allowable amount every year, and resulting student debt loads that can reach $150,000 have been a particularly hot topic on campus for the past year, he says. Students say they feel pressured to pursue higher-paying Bay Street jobs over public interest jobs.  They are also concerned about the impact on student diversity and mental health, and argue that the current financial assistance doesn’t go far enough...
 
Associate Dean Ben Alarie says the administration is aware of the student concerns and is careful to ensure the law school is accessible and that career choices can remain flexible...The university offers need-based financial assistance and a post-graduation debt relief program for those who will earn less than $75,000, Alarie said. Both programs were introduced by Daniels.  “So far, students are selecting us over cheaper law schools because they see the value (in a U of T law degree), too,” Alarie adds. “It’s a success story.”
 
A success story for ScamDeans and LawProfs, no doubt.  Those salaries and sabbaticals have to come from somewhere.  Students and graduates, on the other hand...?  "Network."
 
It appears that people are getting the message, though, when looking at the declining Canadian figures.  Hmmm....looks a lot like what is happening in the good 'ol USA.
 
Prospective 0Ls, non-trads, and anyone else listening - please pay attention.  If you don't believe us, believe the data, the stories, and the outcomes.  Outside of a very few exceptions, law school is currently a sucker's bet.

12 comments:

  1. The law school pigs are always seeking more asses in seats, because that is the best way to increase their revenue stream. But they are "high-minded educators" who care about their students, society, and the "profession," right?!?!

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    1. Sorry, I mean "Sucks, eh?"

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  3. The problem of too many law students is pretty well worldwide. The UK has over 100 law courses that qualify a graduate to train as a solicitor or barrister, provided they can get a training contract or pupilage - it's a guess but there are probably around 30,000 p.a. law graduates for 5-7,000 slots. Same problem in France, Spain, Italy, Ireland. Law is considered cheap to teach when compared with say STEM, prestigious to have as a department, etc.

    The situation is a little better for BLs as compared to JDs - it is not a full professional degree, and you can in principle take it with another major, like say Econ - so it is not a Mark of Cain - but the European Universities are still churning out way to many law graduates.

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    1. And here in Australia too. I believe something like 12,000 law students enrolled this year. Considering our population is less than 10% of America's, and our society is less litigious, this is an absurd degree of overproduction. Lemmings everywhere find the preſtige of law irresistible.

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  4. Canada, where I live, is never very far behind the US. When the US farts, Canada's ass stinks.

    The legal "profession" here is not yet quite so bad as it is in the US, but it's well on the way.

    Recently I got a bill for $4859 for Ontario's bar exams (including the preparatory materials—roughly the counterpart of a bar-review course in the US). That's three times as much as last year's fee. The justification for this monstrous increase is a new programme for graduates who cannot get an articling position, which is a sort of paid apprenticeship that is required for admission to the bar: these people will be allowed instead to sign up for some extra courses (taught in only two cities in this huge province) and complete some simulated practical exercises in lieu of paid work in law. The cost of this new second-class scheme is being imposed upon candidates for admission, including those of us with articling positions; lawyers already licensed in Ontario are not being asked to pay for it.

    At least law school in Canada is far cheaper than in the US. The University of Toronto, Canada's most expensive law school, charges about $27k per year. In Québec, law school costs only $4k or so per year; the rest is subsidised by the provincial government. But even a foreign student pays only $20k or so at many law schools in Canada, which is a lot less even than in-state tuition at most public law schools in the US.

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    1. Thank America for the bargain in Quebec. To buy off the French Canadians so they wouldn't join the American Revolution the British allowed them, among other things, to keep a French legal system except in criminal cases. Thus they have notaries who do a lot of what lawyers do south of the border. I married a Quebecoise and her relatives were always asking whether I was a lawyer or a notary. BTW, les Quebecoise are the best deal in the world - a French woman without the attitude.

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  5. speaking of other edu scams: yeshivas.

    even though jewish parents could opt out of sending their kids to yeshivas, they mostly send them to yeshivas because one of the parents think that outside influences are terrible for their precious kids. meanwhile, they graduate from these yeshivas and go to PUBLIC universities. how hypocritical is that?

    sending kids to yeshivas causes internal family conflicts , especially since tuition is usually around 20k per year from kindergarten to 12th grade. this type of financial pressure is what is causing the breadwinners to commit crimes to support their families.

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    1. Well, 8:35, you're a bit off topic but I will say this. We did Catholic schools, which are cheaper, but I know good parents in my community who raised decent kids but used to lay awake at night worrying about the kids their children were associating with in our local schools, many of whom are now in prison. Those people don't go to any university, public or private. Keeping your children away from street scum is a good investment.

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  6. A law school is shit no matter what you put on it...Canadian maple syrup, American Flame-Broiled Whoppers, Big Ben, koala bear vomit. Exploitation is not a monopoly to any one country but our northern neighbors are mere amateurs when it comes to the masters here in the United States Law School Corporate Enterprise.

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  7. I just wish law were an undergrad degree. It obviously should be btw, like much of the rest of the world treats it. You don't need to be older to study law, and its ludicrous to pretend law degrees are quasi-PhD doctorates. Law school operators should be embarrassed by all this, let alone the outrageous cost.

    But to my point. If law were an undergrad subject, you'd just take the 10-15 classes. You could double major, for example, law and English, law and econ, law and poli sci, law and electrical engineering, etc.

    Law would lose its mystique and would be brought to the masses. Law wouldn't cost $250,000 to learn. Many people who studied law would realize they don't like it and be free to change careers easily at age 22 without the sunk costs and stigma of a JD. People could study law for fun in undergrad and go do something else!

    Studying law should not be a life-changing decision that irrevocably changes your finances, career, and alters the whole trajectory of your life. Just make law another undergrad major and create law PhDs for those who want to be profs.

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  8. $150,000 for some law degrees is total rip-off! Just like that the education system in Canadian universities. But what is more of a rip-off is OSAP, NSLC, etc they do whatever they want, change the interest rate because it is 'floating' scam to trap you in the system. And they will do it to anybody to.

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