Monday, March 17, 2014

U.S. News' Dessiccated Husk's Rankings Still Putting Law Schools In A Panic

Shrinking Law Schools Face Financial Devastation
Money Quote: “The pain for law schools could last longer. “The decline in applicants will devastate the financial position of many law schools, and it remains to be seen how they will manage,” Tamanaha wrote. “The number of entering students in 2014 will go down to a level not seen in three decades, when there were 50 fewer law schools.”

And the U.S. News law school ranking fallout begins...
Money Quote: “The rankings do dramatically impact behavior.”
Law school becomes less selective
Money Quote: “Forty-two percent of applicants secured admission to the GW Law School last year – eroding selectivity by 13 percentage points in a single year as the school tried to amass tuition dollars despite declining application numbers.”

28 comments:

  1. I was sorry to read that some law professors received buyouts of their revenue streams...er, I mean jobs. They should have just been locked out of their offices. It's amazing what a practice-ready locksmith can do.

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  2. And law schools keep lying. "Last week, I noted Hofstra's sharp decline in student/faculty ratio over the past year. It's student/faculty ratio went from 15 to 1 to18.19 to 1 in just one year, a 20% decline. This is especially surprising since Hofstra's enrollment has been declining, which should cause improvement in its student/faculty ratio. Although the post received several comments, none satisfactorily explained the decline.

    I did receive additional information from a correspondent. Hofstra's ratios reported to the ABA over the 8-year period from 2006 (which would have covered the ratio for academic year 2005-06) to 2013 (covering AY2012-13) were 18.5; 17.9; 18.7; 15.6; 15.2; 15.4; 15.1; 18.19. As you can see, Hofstra's student/faculty ratio was relatively steady for four years, then it declined to 18.19 to 1 in one year." http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_skills/2014/03/update-on-hofstras-sharp-decline-in-studentfaculty-ratio.html

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    1. Doesn't the favorable student faculty ratio correspond with Nora Demleitner's deanship at Hofstra? Maybe the new dean decided to end the deception.

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    2. Did Hofstra lay off a bunch of faculty?

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  3. These law schools are like starving human beings. The body goes through a series of genetically hardwired defensive mechanisms, consuming various tissues in their turn in order to keep the brain alive until a source of food can be found. The faculty are the brain and lemming is on the menu, assuming they can keep finding them indefinitely.

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    1. Oh, the brains were used up long ago. Now all that is left is the asshole.

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  4. Schools have to close!

    I don't know if we all agree on everything, for example, I actually think legal education is done quite well here in the U.S., and it is a wonderful learning experience... However, it just does NOT work financially for the tens of thousands of unemployed students. It doesn't make sense to spend hundreds of thousands for 3 years of lost earnings, with dwindling job prospects...

    There should be 100 ABA approved JD-degree-granting schools AT THE MOST... There really should only probably be 50 that offer the traditional JD degree.

    In conjunction, licensing needs to be handled differently in that there should be tracks of legal education that involve a year of study (or less) for a legal studies certification and the ability to get a license in a specific concentration or area. Minimize debt and maximize potential for students in particular fields. Now, if someone really really wants that JD and has competitive numbers, and wants to get into law firm or fed. gov. agencies, by all means allow them to go to the traditional 3 year institution and have them pass a bar exam. This way the competition is down, and the profession is being regulated PROPERLY like medicine, dentistry, etc...

    Overall, the system just doesn't work for so many, it's hard to keep ignoring it and pretending every school is a harvard, penn, yale, whatever Ivy league institution...

    It's unsustainable.

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    1. There could be 10 law schools and it would be unsustainable at this point.

      There are now, simply put, too many existing lawyers and too few jobs to justify that existence. Technology is the other major issue. Unauthorized practice of law as well. Notarios doing the work of attorneys. Paralegals. Computers. Even if there were 10 law schools in the country, you'd still have a problem.

      We've arrived at a point where no one wants to pay for quality legal work.

      It's all about quantity.

      The only "successful" grads I know from my class are all on the Gov't Dole in some form or another. That's unsustainable and unrealistic for new grads because every level of gov't is under financial pressure and cutting back.

      What's left is Biglaw and they have an entrenched system of Churn and Burn (cost containment). They're fighting each other for work at that level. Technology and globalization have fully reached law at this point.

      No one moves up in law. Only down.

      Lose the job in Biglaw. Pray you get to the gov't before you're forced to go solo. At that point, it's the Big vs. Small bankroll dynamic.

      Law is a losing proposition and it will continue to be so for decades, IMO.

      You could have 10 law schools left in the country. For ease, we'll assume it's HYS and then the rest, according to US News. And unless tuition were severely reduced, you'd still not have a worthwhile investment, IMO, or worthwhile ROI looking longitudinally over the course of a legal lifetime career.

      The system is unsustainable. But 100 law schools?

      No.

      It's even more unsustainable that you think, IMO.

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    2. I think there is a lot that can be done to align supply and demand. The lack of demand for attorneys is partially cyclical, but it's also structural. Even if the economy fully recovers and the job market gains momentum, I don't think legal jobs will be created.

      At the end of the day, we need fewer law graduates.

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  5. So let me get this straight. For the 2012 admission cycle, GW admitted 29% of its applicants and the median LSAT for the entering class was a 167. One year later, it admitted 42% of its applicants and the median LSAT for the entering class in 2013 fell to a 165. And USNWR bumps them up in the ranking from #21 to #20.

    I guess there are two ways of looking at this. On the one hand, the fact that GW can significantly decrease its admission standards and somehow manage to rise in the USNWR rankings suggests that the ranking system itself is deeply flawed. At the same time, what does it say about the current state of legal education in this country when a supposed top-20 school admits 42% of its applicants?

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    1. I'm sure GW rose in the rankings due to all of the employment opportunities available to its grads. lol.

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  6. It's great to see that the pigs and cockroaches are financially raping fewer lemmings each year.

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  7. Plugging the figures into this calculator tells it all. 200K in loans. Interest at 6.8%. Payback over 25 years. You need a Salary of at least 208.221 to support repayment of that debt over that length of time.

    http://mappingyourfuture.org/paying/debtwizard/index.cfm

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  8. Anon at 9:48. The answer is that GWU hired about 20% of its class (about 119 students) into what it called long term, full time, JD jobs. This boosted its employment rate in the positions most counted by US News (LT/FT/JD required or preferred) by 20%. That's a huge difference. It probably would have fallen in the rankings without it.

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    1. A non-renewable nine-month job shuffling papers in the admissions office, offered solely to boost the employment rate for the purposes of You Ass News, counts as a "long-term", "full-time", "JD required or preferred" job.

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  9. Would someone please advise me as to what type of representation poor people need that they now don't receive through legal aid or public defender? This is always stated as unchallenged fact but I'm not so sure.

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    1. There is a persistent belief that poor people constitute a huge unmet pool of demand for legal services. The dream of the law schools is a "civil Gideon" - a law that the government has to provide legal representation in all civil cases, as it is already required to do in all criminal cases.

      For example, legal commenters note that poor people almost never have legal representation when faced with eviction proceedings. Of course, in probably 95% of these proceedings, the eviction is occurring because the tenant can't or won't pay the rent - legal representation isn't of much use when the cause is eviction for nonpayment.

      Of course, a lawyer might be able to stretch out the process a bit, and increase the costs of eviction to the landlord - but that only means that the rents will go up to cover that additional expense. Not exactly a great social victory.

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    2. Legal aid and public defenders are inadequate—mainly because the state refuses to fund them adequately. Much has been written on the subject. But this is not a problem that can be corrected by churning out more and more lawyers (especially of the Cooleyite variety). However much additional representation poor people may need, the funds to pay for it simply are not available. And even the most selfless person cannot be expected to take on a quarter of a million dollars in non-dischargeable debt and maintain a license so that she can deliver free legal services all day and work at some McJob all night.

      The fact is that rich people have a greater need for legal services—to protect their assets, avoid taxes, manage their estates. Poor people rarely prepare complex wills, set up trusts, perform mergers & acquisitions, or require advice on international environmental sports law.

      Poor people do get screwed in criminal prosecutions, family cases, and a variety of other matters. They need better representation than they get. But the money simply is not available to support a significant expansion of these services.

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    3. "The fact is that rich people have a greater need for legal services—to protect their assets, avoid taxes, manage their estates. Poor people rarely prepare complex wills, set up trusts, perform mergers & acquisitions, or require advice on international environmental sports law."

      Somebody pointed out that greater inequality in society is probably working *against* legal employment. A middle-/working-class family might go from 0 legal services to some, as their income increases and they gain assets. A 1% family whose wealth doubles will be starting at some legal services, but they won't be doubling the amount they need. For most things, the increased wealth just means that the value of the assets being covered is larger.

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  10. Fairly or unfairly, there's a perception that public defenders and Legal Aid lawyers aren't as zealously representing their clients as a private attorney would. Many think that individuals can get lost in the hundreds of cases a public defender had to handle. So, in theory, it's better for everyone to set up a system where private lawyers are able to help the people who need the help the most.

    What most of these pie in the sky optimists fall to take into account is that most lawyers want to make money. They have not resigned themselves to forgoing income in order to help the needy. And if you're a private lawyer, you don't have the no strings attached loan forgiveness that public interest folks do. Just a huge tax bill looming twenty years down the line.

    There is no economic way to currently allow the poor to all have their own attorney. If people want this to happen, you essentially have to have the government pay tuition on behalf of all law students. Or reduce tuition top such an extent that there is no barrier caused by student loan debt. Both methods involve massive transfers of money from the government to the schools. And then the Scam artists have truly won.

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    1. Wouldn't caps on federal loans help with this? GradPLUS is a nightmare.

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    2. Reducing and capping federal loans would in the medium term force schools to lower tuition. In the short term though it would have the effect of pricing many students out of law school entirely. Which would actually be for their own good, but they wouldn't see it this way.

      Being extra-special snowflakes they would assume if only they could have gotten into law school they would have made it and been successful lawyers. America is an optimistic country, and the myth that people can be anything they want if they believe and work hard enough is alive and well.

      This may be a factor, amongst others, as to why the federal government is reluctant to cut back on loans. Unlimited loans allow plenty of wide-eyed optimistic lemmings to go to the school of their choice. Americans love them and their optimism. So cute. And possibility the government is worried about many of these sympathetic would-be students getting up in front of congress and asking, teary eyed "why are you denying me my dream?"

      (Unemployed, debt crippled graduates trying the same stunt to get debt relief would get little sympathy of course. If in America its believed you can be anything you want, its also believed if you don't succeed then that is entirely your fault too.)

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    3. The government would also have to provide more funds to pay for those legal services. The fact that lawyers do need income seems to escape the notice of the law-school scam artists who feign concern about poor people's legal needs.

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  11. According to the article on GW, the U.S. News rankings take into account employment but disregard if the employment is provided by the law school. Yet, their rankings are considered the standard. No wonder why applications are plummeting. Even HYS law school is being avoided.

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    1. This is also how William & Mary made a huge leap this year. It claims an 88 percent employment rate but a large number of grads are in fake jobs paid by the school. Total bullshit.

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  12. Sadly, these law schools' desperation to stay afloat will compel them to recruit even less qualified students. This is a real tragedy, IMO. These students are naive and arrogant -- the ideal candidates to be exploited.

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    1. The "students" have no excuse. Many of them are well aware of the law-school scam but matriculate nonetheless. They get very little sympathy from me.

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  13. Why are law schools continuing to spend so much on rankings which fewer and fewer people care about? Surely even lemmings must realise that once you get below, say #20 (at most), all schools are almost equally bad.

    Or perhaps many 0Ls really do believe its worth borrowing whatever it takes to get into the highest ranked school that will accept them, even if that school is well under the top tier.

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