Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Oft-Ignored, Omnipresent Lawyer Glut

Part of the vitriol from the Law School Cartel towards those that would have the temerity to question specious claims and ask for proof of the same (a/k/a the much ballyhooed skill of "thinking like a lawyer"), concerns the value of a law degree in the marketplace, and the ability to actually do the thing the degree purports that one be able to do, should one obtain said degree in the first instance.

Certainly, this is a challenging question.  Some studies have been attempted, and others purport to advance their own analysis, but the paucity of strong, reliable data makes answering this kind of question all the more difficult.  One cannot quickly order up a statistical sample in the laboratory, run a series of double-blind tests, and analyze the results.  The "laboratory" in this case is in fact the Real World (tm), and the tests are being run now, in real time (neglecting the contributions of relativistic effects, as we can all safely assume that were are within the same reference frame).  We are forced to wait, therefore, for the actual results, which takes decades to unfold.

In the meantime, we have to scrape by with logical inference (another "thinking like a lawyer" skill). Law School Transparency was recently lambasted for the conclusions it has tried to draw from past historical data, that law school is not a productive choice for many.  As financial institutions are quick to point out, "past performance is no guarantee of future results," and I believe LST would concur.  LST also points out that while its conclusions are based on available data, there are many (cough cough) who could readily provide more accurate data in refutation should they choose to do so.  Strangely, the voices in-the-know remain silent on this issue, but I'm sure LST would be happy to revise their conclusions should strong data present itself.

More below the fold.

In much the same way, there are other indicators that would demonstrate now is not a good time to go to law school.  I submit the following chart from Matt Leichter:

First of all, these are not numbers picked out of the air, but the ABA's own information.  One immediately notices that the 35-year moving sum of admitted lawyers far exceeds the 35-year moving sum of law graduates, which in turn significantly exceeds the number of active lawyers for the same years.  This is not hand-waiving.  This is not manipulation.  This is the mere-est of the mere when it comes to observation, and is a skill largely garnered in late elementary school when it comes to interpreting graphical data.  

Note also the Bureau of Labor Statistics' line for available lawyer jobs, along with future projections.  It's easy to find; it's the lowest line on the chart.   To say that this line and the foregoing lines are "not even close" is a bit of an understatement.

Adding additional data, it would appear that "hanging out a shingle," the favorite of quick retorts to the emplyoment crisis within the profession, would be at risk as well.  Generally, pursuing this option is known by other fields as being "self-employed."  According to additional federal and private data, self-employment has been on the decline for a long time now.  I don't know this for certain, but I have to believe there are at least one or two solo-wannabes in that chart somewhere, if not more.  Further, the birth rate and death rate of "firms" appear to have cancelled each other out, and that there are increasing numbers of job seekers looking for fewer and fewer jobs in this non-expanding number of "firms".  Again, while this chart does not say "Law Firm Births and Deaths" but "Firm Births and Deaths," I again have to believe there is a Dewey & LeBoeuf or two in this data.

Does this mean that there is no hope at all, ever, for JD graduates?  Of course not.  These are all large numbers and trends, and like any statistical measure, the outcome of one individual is not governed by simple prediction.  There are individual circumstances that may greatly affect one outcome as opposed to another.  There are plenty of print resources for starting one's own practice, and I remember JeffM's guide on jdunderground being particularly useful to many a few years ago.  If someone can add an active link in the comments, that would be great.

UPDATE:  This link should work.!14172&ithint=file%2cpdf&app=WordPdf&authkey=!AJDHJNxcy1Dpju0

That said, while one cannot predict both the velocity and position of any one helium atom in a balloon, one can indeed predict with significant accuracy the actual pressure generated by quintillions of helium atoms all interacting with each other statistically in the same balloon.  In much the same way, it is a supremely reasonable inference from the above, and other sources, that there is significant "pressure" on JD graduates, that the market is terrible, and the rent is just too damn high.
While the Law School Cartel is happy to try to poke holes in theories in order to advance their own dubious agenda, they remain silent when it comes to the data of the big picture.  They try to treat graduates an individuals rather than a collective market, as if there are no other interactions or forces at play in the world except individual grit and determination.

Grit and determination, I note, that they are asking Others to exhibit, and not of Themselves, in order to draw a paycheck.

Which, in turn, plays into the Cartel's best interests - not yours.


  1. The law school cartel is standing on its last leg, and that leg is "what else could these kids do but go to law school?" In other words, they are arguing the best most of these second, third and fourth tier grads could not have done better, as bad as thing are, but attend law school.

    The key to permanently impaling the scam is to destroy this final anethama of a lie.

    If we don't act soon though, I fear they will win by eliminating any and all standards of entry into the profession.

    1. If a Toileteer had genuinely wanted to work in a legal-related field, they would have done better applying for a job as a corrections officer. They get a pension and the worst they'll do is reject your application (Oh, and shanking). They won't demand that you drop tens/hundreds of thousands to learn to "think like a prison guard."

    2. This is the point. Lemmings have a binary thought process. They don't understand things fall on a spectrum. Is it better to be an associate at Cravath or in house counsel at some big companies than a correction officer in LA? Probably. Is it better to be in shitlaw vs being a corrections officer? No. However, if you convince an entire generation that any white collar work beats any blue collar or un-prestigious work, then you can fuck someone out of 200k in non-discharge able debt for a career where you will never make what a bus driver (without the debt) will make.

    3. Most people don't understand finance at 45, forget at 22 before ever really managing anything.

      Heck, even the experts that work their entire careers in finance turn around and say "this is too sophisticated, nobody actually knows what they're doing" to escape all criminal liability.

      So you really can't put blame on naive 22 year olds that are just doing what they're taught. If you want to place blame, the scammers are first on the list (professors, law school admin), then the government which encourages all this "education" and provides loans, then parents and other authority figures, and then and only then can you start slamming the lemmings as the biggest scapegoats.

    4. I agree, but this has now reached a point of total insanity. A call dispatcher in Chicago makes 90k and a garbage man in NYC makes 100k. We are talking about people that do not need to have. 4-year degree, and to contrast, we have people with JDs struggling to make 15 dollars an hour. This just doesn't make sense. It is insane social conditioning. What's the point, because your boomer parents told you white collar good, blue collar bad, it makes sense to go to Touro and make less money than someone who didn't finish the 10th grade.

      If municipal employees made what most JDs are making, there would be rioting in the streets, and yet, people still go because of social conditioning, and no other reason.

      I know one kid from a T25 who graduated top five percent in his class, and he is making 40k working 70 hours a week at a PI mill. That's insane.

    5. I don't think sanitation workers and call dispatchers are good examples. Those jobs provide a very real worth, a function, value to society.

      Education doesn't in any way enhance or perform those jobs.

      Compare law to HR, compliance, regular office jobs. That's where education should make a difference, be an asset to the employer and in said fields. Those fields do make good money, but they are in general closed off to law graduates. That is what truly doesn't make any sense.

      Unless you understand that there are way too many law graduates, and even these jobs are make-work where it doesn't really matter at all how many useless degrees you have.

      Law is a waste of time, and everyone outside of law students and law graduates knows it. Even the law professors deep down must understand they don't in any way enhance or educate their scam victims. They don't improve them in any way, they simply leave them in debt and three years older, with a stigma attached to them for being so stupid as to get a law degree.

      The smartest people that go to law school tend to drop out either after the first semester or first year. I wish I had done that. If you're not smart enough to avoid law altogether, then at least be smart enough to cut your losses. The exception may be if you are ranked in the top 10. Not top 10 percent, top 10 of your grade period. It's still not going to be great, but at least that is something.

    6. "The smartest people that go to law school tend to drop out either after the first semester or first year.... If you're not smart enough to avoid law altogether, then at least be smart enough to cut your losses."

      Quote of the Day. So true.

  2. The “oft-ignored and omnipresent” lawyer glut. That’s just for starters. The lede forgot to mention the glut will grow.

    Today’s lawyer glut is expanding. However flooded today’s market is, it’s mathematically certain to be more flooded next year. And yet more flooded the next.

    Massive front-end overbooking persists. Although law schools may belly ache about fewer students, they still churn out a proven excess of lawyers for available positions, including any ‘demand’ for solos. By at least a factor of two. As incredible as it may seem, recent coverage of sagging enrollments, slipping standards, and fewer bar passers has given rise to the mistaken belief the market is correcting itself. IT’S NOT. Market correction would involve closing most schools, vastly reducing bar exam seats, and then offering the bar exam once every four years. Even this would take a decade. We’re not even close. Thousands of family holiday dinners will soon unfold where proud parents will hear Kingsfeldian tales of One-L Year hijinks, rather than “I’m not going back.” THAT would be grit and determination.

    Next, the half-life of apparently ‘successful’ lawyers who are annually cast aside in the up-or-out gristmill is long. Landing a job upon graduation is two- or three-year ‘success,’ not a career. A lawyer who emerges from the firm forge has already spent something like seven formative years of her/his life focused solely on law. Few outright leave. The diligent settle for under-employment in part time, contract or solo work. Like radioactive waste, the byproduct of “up or out” floats around for ages. If 90% of law schools closed tonight and all holiday dinners end in “I quit,” the market will remain flooded with invested 30- and 40-somethings. Forget Boomers. The half-life problem has been a tumor spreading for decades and has nothing to do with the Great Recession, Obama, the Internet or India.

    There’s also technology: computerization, outsourcing, online information. The ever-growing lawyer horde is chasing a shrinking pie.

    It’s not simply bad; it’s getting steadily worse.

  3. Great post as always Duped. Keep fighting the good fight. Also, for those interested, the enrollment stats for the 2015 entering class are up at Law School Transparency. A couple of quick things that caught my eye from both ends of the prestige spectrum:

    - Appalachian School of Law only enrolled 33 1Ls. To put that number into perspective, 5 years ago, Appalachian had 127 1Ls.

    - The 25% LSAT score for G-Town was only 161. To put that number into perspective, five years ago, second tier Brooklyn Law School had a 25% LSAT score of 162. At what point do we stop calling G-Town an elite law school?

    1. Interesting stat, 10:44. Appalachian has shrunk so much it and Indiana Tech could probably share the same grave.

    2. Georgetown is certainly not élite; it is a third-tier institution.

    3. One other thing about G-Town. Its class size is massive - 576 1L’s this year plus 110 transfer students (whose LSAT scores don’t show up in the median stats). Given the saturated DC job market, it’s small wonder that G-Town ends up (temporarily) "employing" 14.2% of the graduating class in bogus fellowship positions. Unless you are getting big time scholarship money, G-Town Law is a very risky gamble.

    4. I know a few G-Town grads, all are struggling solos as best as I can tell.

  4. Leiter has a solution!

    Brian Leiter, the morally depraved meisterscammer at Chicago, has an answer to the overproduction of lawyers. They can become law professors! And those who don't make it just didn't try hard enough.

    Leiter has been crowing lately that law school admissions are trending up again, which will allow inferior law schools to hire more professors. Tenure track hiring, which has been stuck at around 70 persons per year, could soon start rising to 100 or more.

  5. I believe Leichter has another graph somewhere that compares projections of lawyers v. actual demand (or something like that), which basically shows that past estimates for lawyer demand are usually high. The guy is the most honest scholar in legal academia. Let that one sink in.

    A part of the "lawyer glut" that is often not discussed is the actual demand for legal services. Even if lawyer input and output were breaking even, we'd have a lawyer glut. Contrary to the claims of charlatans who think quickie pro se divorces and non-specific newfangled complex regulation showcase a need for legal services, it's very much the opposite. Talk to anyone who lives at sea level.

    I would bet that almost every area of law has seen reduced demand over the last twenty years relative to the broad economy. Few to no trials, increased arbitration/mediation, computerized transactional software, tighter margins on any firm that does corporate or insurance work, tort reform, etc.

    Not saying these are necessarily bad things, but we simply don't need the legal labor force we did, or that we have.

  6. Good work, Duped Non-Traditional.

    "Thinking like a lawyer" is an old piece of platitudinous jargon, akin to "critical thinking", that shores up the law-school scam. Ask a scamster what she means by "thinking like a lawyer", and most likely you'll get 1) no answer at all; 2) buzzwords and bluster; or 3) a few qualities that characterize good thinking in general.

    There is no mode of thinking that is specific to lawyers. (I'm assuming here that we're talking about good lawyers, not the half-ass mainstream.) Thinking like a lawyer is the same as thinking like a bellhop.

    Furthermore, although correct reasoning can be taught (I've taught it), I have not seen the slightest evidence of any such instruction at even the decent law schools, to say nothing of the toilets that make up the majority. In other words, even if "thinking like a lawyer" were meaningful, it would not be happening at law schools, at least not in any systematic way.

    But of course the scamsters go on offering the keys to the kingdom of Heaven. They're full of shit.

    As for the "individual circumstances" that favor a successful career in law, chief among them is class background, with its handmaiden money. Intelligence and ability are also important, though neither necessary nor sufficient.

    1. Thinking like a lawyer means this to a balding, paunchy middle aged Jewish surplus solo like me: Every time I walk into a car dealership, I think about a potential law suit. Every car I have purchased has involved one legal issue or another. VW will eventually pay for my new AC compressor. Mark my words. Every time I walk into a Walmart, I think of liability and damages. Every corporation has a target on their back that I am ready to file at the drop of a hat. I have law suit fairies dancing in my head every night. Any hint that I am wronged or feel cheated, I pick up the phone to my class action colleagues. I am tired of chasing three bill DUIs. I need some of that law suit gravy train. That's what thinking like a lawyer means. Corporate America and fat cats, I am a hungry, starving solo who wants a new Audi. Thinking like a lawyer.

    2. That's not thinking like a lawyer; it's thinking like a pettifogger. I can understand your bitterness and disillusionment, but I hope that you'll direct your thoughts in more productive ways.

    3. Please don't use big words like pettifogger (n. a lawyer whose methods are petty, underhanded, or disreputable) with me. I attended a TTT law school and I had to beg them to let me in. You must be Justice Scalia or something. Since I have the relative anonymity of the Interwebs, I can just say what most lawyers have in their heart. At least the garden variety ones like me. You don't want to hit the jackpot and pay off your student loans and simply write a check for a new Camry? Liar, Liar, pants on fire....

    4. Thank you Old Guy. I had to look-up what "Pettifogger" meant, and it's now my new favorite word. It summarizes precisely what I've been complaining about for the past few years.

      Sadly, Pettifoggery IS law for most of us. Very few lawyers (presumably only graduates of elite schools, and maybe the top 15% from regional schools) get to really practice law in its true, intellectual form. The rest of us are merely pushing paper while doing worthless tasks in order to bill the client at an attorney's rate ($130-$200 per hour, rather than the $65 per hour paralegal rate). This transcends into practically all areas of law, including "respected" specialties such as patent law and intellectual property law.

      Law is a profession that forces people to become something that they are not.

    5. If you go to court and file motions in criminal court based on the Amendments, most typically the Fourth, you are practicing pure law and putting into practice what took place during that hot summer of 1787 in Philadelphia. Even if you are "pushing" papers as an attorney, you are still the face of justice. Your mere presence means our system of law, order is still in place.

    6. @3:17 -- I beg to differ.

      Rummaging through papers is not legal work. It's paralegal work, yet lawyers do it so their firm can bill the client (or insurance company) at a higher rate.

      Representing a "copyright troll" is not legal work. It's a shameful scam.

      And the list goes on and on ...

      Frankly, the glut of lawyers is NOT helping society. It's victimizing society, since layers become predators upon society just so they can survive themselves.

    7. Maybe 3:17 has a point - "real" law has to do with liberty, the State, and our constitutional freedoms. Granted, most days it's not highfalutin when you are dealing with a DUI or a minor drug charge, but the principle is there in the background.

      "Civil" law, if your want to call it that, is there the real muckraking is. People screwing people over for a percentage, all day, everyday.

    8. @6:31 -- Oh, I agree completely (12:37 here).

      There certainly are lawyers out there practicing "real" law. This isn't always glamorous work (such as real estate closings, DUIs, etc.), but it's real.

      On the other hand, people with legal degrees doing things like document review are not really practicing law. I don't mean to offend anyone, but shuffling through papers and/or drafting two-line memos for the mere purpose of creating a billable event is NOT really law.

      Half the reason we have such a glut of attorneys (and the ABA sat by and did nothing) is because of all the abuse of insurance companies. Since the insurer (with deep pockets) was paying the legal bills, law firms were free to charge whatever they wanted. Thus, they hired attorneys to do trivial stuff any high school student could do, but they billed the insurance company at the rate of an associate.

      I saw how this game was played back when I did toxic tort. My friends doing medical malpractice and auto have similar stories. Lawyers did unnecessary work, just so that the firm could make money. That's why you have partners at substandard firms driving around in $300K cars.

    9. Someone please tell the law students that the market's collapsed.

      There's still time to drop out at Christmas break and avoid wasting further time and money on Spring 2016.

      Informing dear old Mom & Dad that you've quit Law School will sure shake things up at Christmas. But it's the first step to redirecting your life in a direction that comports with today's reality.... not theirs.

  7. This is interesting, but there is one simple point that needs to be made: the people who run law schools have never wanted to or ever have really been lawyers. That alone is proof that the system is broken.

  8. The law school pigs do not give one goddamn about their students or recent grads. If the "professors" happen to stumble upon one of their newly flushed JDs at PetSmart, while picking up puppy chow for Fido, they would not even recognize the victim.

    1. Nando, go to the Faculty Blog. Some professor is posting to the world that the legal profession has a "NOW HIRING" sign in the door. It's in the post about Commercial Law.

    2. Oh I don't know Nando, thinking like a lawyer is a big help when you're carrying bags of kitty litter out to an old lady's car.

    3. Issue: The issue is whether you, after you graduate from law school, should drink heavily every day or every other day.

      Rule: The rule is that you should drink every day that you feel horrible.

      Analysis: A TTT law degree, unless you are top 10 in your class or have major family connections, has a very strong probability of landing you in low-paying, awful work for years or decades. Unemployment is a major possibility. Furthermore, the degree may disqualify you from a variety of B.A. or B.S.-required entry level jobs. Finally, the amount of a typical student's debt load is sufficiently high that failing to earn BigLaw money out of the gate makes it very difficult to ever escape the debt load. Taking these factors into account, many law graduates will have a reason to feel horrible every single day after they graduate.

      Conclusion: You should drink heavily every day after graduating from that TTToilet you called a "school".

    4. This "IRAC" crap is another dumb invention of law-school hacks. Has any other lawyer here ever used it? I certainly haven't. Most of my work is too complex for that simplistic mold. In any event, I solve problems by thinking, not by applying a recipe.

      I suppose that "IRAC" was introduced as a simple way to get dumb law students (who are legion) to incorporate some law into their work.

    5. I think "IRAC" is a reasonable enough tool for first years. Beyond that, it's overly simplistic. However, how many lawyers do you actually know that routinely do LEXIS searches?

      I'm a patent lawyer, and I can count on one hand the number of times I ever had to shift through caselaw. Litigators do that stuff, but that's a whole other department. Any time I ever need to cite law, I refer directly to the MPEP (the patent examiner's manual).

      My friends who do real estate closings never look-up caselaw. Hardly any of the associates doing insurance based civil litigation at mills ever deal with caselaw. Likewise, all the document review people never do anything that requires more than a third-grade education.

      Frankly, only litigators (excluding the junior associates doing drudge work), tax lawyers and corporate/M&A types need to worry about reviewing caselaw. These are typically the more "successful" law school graduates who start-off practicing a higher caliber of law.

      Most law school graduates never really get to deal with caselaw, thus IRAC is somewhat irrelevant (much like that calculus class you took back in the 12th grade).

    6. Most law school graduates never really get to deal with caselaw, thus IRAC is somewhat irrelevant (much like that calculus class you took back in the 12th grade).

      Funnily enough, the only bits of formal education I use (I was taught to read by my parents) are my high school trigonometry and geometry lessons.

    7. I have never used "IRAC". Even in law school I did not use it. It's a silly little jack-in-the-box: turn the crank and out pops the answer. Legal questions that are simple enough for "IRAC" are also simple enough for me to handle directly, without the rigmarole of a formula.

      I use case law every day. But my practice goes far beyond routine real-estate closings and the like.

      Oh, and I use the calculus, too.

    8. @Old Guy -- you use calculus in your legal practice? If so, that is so strange.

      I deal with diagnostic tests and procedures, so we see a lot of statistical analysis (such as chi-sqaured tests, linear regression analysis, etc.), but use of calculus in law is very weird.

  9. The point of 9:15 am above of up or out policies producing a drastic surplus of underemployed lawyers is very important.

    It is doubly hard for women and minorities to stay employed as they age. There are few high paying jobs that allow those over age 50 to stay employed as lawyers, and only a tiny percentage of those jobs are held by persons who are not white male.

    Your market value as a lawyer or doing any other related job declines drastically with age if you are not a white male. That is important. If you are not a white male and are over age 50 or 55 - you are close to worthless as a lawyer. No one will hire you. That T8 law degree of yours is worthless.

    That is the market of lawyer glut in an industry that will must likely spit you out with very minimal employment opportunities if you are old and not white male.

    1. Planning to be a lawyer is a poor life choice if you seek anything resembling long term employment. I’m not talking lifetime employment with one company; that dinosaur is extinct. I’m simply talking about being able to work in a field for 15-20 years for a few firms. If that’s your goal, law school ain’t your ride.

      The law school cartel touts a JD’s long-term value. And this squares with the public’s vision of comfortable, 50-plus partners ensconced in downtown corner offices, traveling to gated neighborhoods in imported sports cars. Law simply can’t help the fact it oozes long term, professional respectability. That’s not only looking backwards; today, it’s delusional.

      Setting aside the fact there’s a dearth of decent jobs for new lawyers, the unpleasant truth for the super-diligent (and lucky) few who snag them is they won’t hold the job for more than 2-3 years. They cannot. These jobs aren’t intended to be long term. They cannot be. Up Or Out isn’t some derogatory label thrown about by malcontents. It’s a tried-and-true business model. It works. For the Firm that is, not you.

      A firm takes on a handful of “the best and the brightest” and they are the grunts. These excessively eager, talented, well-schooled kids will be (a) worked/billed to maximum effect, (b) kept away from the clients, and (c) not allowed to establish too much familiarity in their practice area. After two or three years, they will be shown the door. Rinse, wash, repeat. It’s business.

      Where next? Why another firm, of course. Read the previous paragraph. Law schools kind of like this too.

      This practice has been going on for decades. This isn’t news. I’m not even saying it’s a bad practice.

      BUT... this practice has produced ***and continues to produce*** a drastic surplus of underemployed, yet invested, lawyers. These are the cream of the crop who landed that coveted starting job. These are winners, not the guy who picked his nose at OCI. These people are invested in law and not going anywhere. These people continue to accumulate each passing year. They drive down the worth of a lawyer’s work and ensure lawyers are a fungible commodity.

      Again, if the ability to work 15-20 years in a field is your goal, law school ain’t your ride.

      So ‘Go Solo,’ you say. Hang that shingle! Be Horatio A. Bootstraps. Ok. This is not only self-employment, but it’s wholly dependent on the market for small-scale legal services. It is utterly dependent on that market’s ability to pay for these services. (Here’s a tip for solos: Don’t buy all the negativity. There’s plenty of ‘work’ and always will be. But there’s nowhere near enough **paying** work to go around). Again, there’s this surplus problem: far too many solos are chasing the crumbs of paying work.

      On the very odd chance you’re now in law school with the intent to solo (a truly mind blowing concept), you owe it to yourself to shadow an established solo for a year.

      Law students should exercise dispassionate, critical thinking on behalf of their best client– themself. Find something else come January.

    2. Making partner, snagging a general counsel or high paying in house position - a lot of the partner jobs last a few years, and then the person is out. Few in house jobs last long enough for a lawyer to voluntarily "retire".

      The reality is lawyers being fired - forced out of their jobs - long before they are ready to stop work. Then they are in temp jobs or unemployed or in solos/tiny firms, maybe picking something for a few years, and having that job dry up, with longer periods of unemployment to follow. We are talking people with the top records. Former GCs with Harvard Law or other T8 law degrees cum laude and Ivy undergrads are a dime a dozen. Same with former AmLaw 200 partners.

      You have too many people entering at the bottom of the big law pyramid, pushing out the lawyers who are actually working as lawyers, and too little room for people over age 50 anywhere in the profession. The so called older "successes" in the 5 to 65 lawyer firms may be making a fraction of what big law pays a first year, with a few senior partners in these firms earning what a second year makes at the going rate. The expression "outside beautiful, inside rotten" applies to many of the 5 to 65 lawyer firms. They look good from the outside, but most of the partners earn significantly less than the total compensation (cash and employee benefits cost) of a 20 plus year public school teacher in that city, when you add the cost of pension and health benefits the city pays for to the teacher's salary. The associates make nothing. Their jobs are usually short lasting.

      The most rotten part of the big firms is the human debris the up or out systems produce. Ultra talented people who mathematically will never be able to earn a decent living as a lawyer because there is much too much human debris from the big firms going after a limited pie of legal work that is in no way growing.

      Outside beautiful, inside rotten- the business model of the legal profession.

  10. 6:04 nailed it on the head. Before computers/internet lawyers had a monopoly on legal information. We were the only ones who knew how to find statutes in those dusty volumes, and find the correct forms. Now, most statutes are available for free, as well as sample forms for wills, deeds, divorce decrees, etc., which used to be the bread and butter of small firms. Now you have 1. a more educated population which 2. has access to the same information lawyers do. Much like home improvement projects, DIY legal issues may not be ideal as compared to hiring a professional, but, in a world of limited resources, many have deemed this an acceptable corner to cut. The average person with a college degree can figure out most legal issues that come their way with a google search. The information age has put a lot of downward pressure on small firm/solos.

    1. Cutting corners on legal work has been going on for a long time. When it goes wrong, as it often does, the consequences can be horrible. I'm helping some people who are going to end up paying $100k or more in legal fees all because they were too lousy to hire a lawyer for a few hundred dollars a quarter-century ago.

    2. Most ex parte stuff can be done without a lawyer.

      I've noticed that courts and government agencies have forms accessible online by the general public, as well as detailed instructions on how to fill them out. Clerks (and even judges) are usually friendly enough to help.

      My cousin filled out such a form in order to become administrator of his father's estate. The clerk told him not to bother with a lawyer, and it was easy enough to do by himself.

      Likewise, my friend went online and filed a trademark application by himself. The trademark office has online tutorial videos showing the general public how to do it. Provided there is no problem along the way, he saved himself a lot of money.

    3. Other matters aren't so easily handled without a lawyer. I have advised on matters in which the clients thought that they had managed everything themselves only to find out that their contract was missing a key term or two, with the result that they may well lose a six- or seven-figure sum. People who could have had a lawyer draft the document for a few hundred dollars are now spending a fortune on litigation that could have been avoided.

  11. Something else about the Omnipresent Lawyer Glut is that there isn't anything that law professors can actually do different to alleviate it.

    Curriculum changes, ('Experiential' learning, classes on law and whatever bullshit, clinics and internships, bar exam help, etc) do nothing because while it is true that law school leaves students unprepared to practice law, even if law students were properly trained for all sort of law there are still not enough jobs for them to actually do.

    'Networking' events do nothing because they either work or they don't. If they don't work they don't work, and if they do work, the previously well connected can go to them too and become even more well connected. Then only the

    'Career' services does nothing because there are only so much work. Firms can't give people jobs if there is no work and career services can't help law grads get employed if firms don't want to hire.

    Only things that can possibly matter.
    (a) Actually upholding a standard of rigor in law school recruiting. While if every law student was smarter the lawyer glut would still exist exactly as before, but if waterheads were actually denied admission to law school they would probably be replaced by nobody. The number of law students would go down and the glut would slowly subside.
    (b) disaccreditation and closure of toliets. It would be a good start if about 100 schools were to simply shut down. Then the number of new law jobs would be approximately equal to the number of new law grads.

    The problem with the two real solutions, in contrast to the fake solutions is that the real solutions would actually cost law school professors and administrators money.

    1. Let's start closing down law schools. I'd settle for 50 or even 20 at this point.

    2. One outlet (apparently they call it a campus) of Cooley has closed down. Hamline has closed under the guise of "merging". Others are on the way out.

      For example, Indiana Tech enrolled only 13 first-year students this year, at zero tuition, and has been denied provisional accreditation. It's a great candidate for shuttering.

      Appalachian, with a faculty of 17, enrolled only 33 first-year students. It must be bleeding red ink.

    3. (a) Every lawyer worthy of the name should be demanding this. With its abysmal standards, law does not deserved to be called a profession.

      (b) We should be demanding this, too. Unfortunately, the ABA, dominated as it is by law-skule scamsters and their associates, seems unwilling to establish or enforce meaningful standards for law schools.

      I'll add a solution:

      (c) Limit the availability of federally guaranteed student loans. The current approach—letting law schools choose both the recipients and the amounts of student loans—goes beyond irresponsibility, to the point of insanity. Anyone not already enrolled in law school should have to score 160 or higher on the LSAT in order to get student loans.

    4. So maybe 4-5 extreme outliers might close. The remaining law schools will be fine for the time being. The decline of applicants has merely lead to the majority of schools going to effectively open admissions. There are enough naive rubes to keep them in business, and the federal government has no interest in restricting GradPlus loans. Graduate outcomes will continue to decline, and there will be much hand wringing. But not the ABA, nor any other body, will actually do another about it.

      On the plus side the expansion of the law school industry seems to have stalled.