Thursday, March 9, 2017

Ditching the LSAT and Slurping the Froth

This evening, on the day before the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar meets (at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, where great decision-making meets the Pacific Ocean!) and considers, among other items, permitting alternative entry examinations, Harvard Law has announced it will accept the GRE in addition to the LSAT.
“Harvard Law School is continually working to eliminate barriers as we search for the most talented candidates for law and leadership,” Dean Martha Minow said in a statement. “For many students, preparing for and taking both the GRE and the LSAT is unaffordable.

“...[G]iven the promise of the revolutions in biology, computer science, and engineering, law needs students with science, technology, engineering and math backgrounds. For these students, international students, multidisciplinary scholars, and joint-degree students, the GRE is a familiar and accessible test, and using it is a great way to reach candidates not only for law school, but for tackling the issues and opportunities society will be facing.”
This superficially seems like an admirable goal: make it easier for elite students to apply to law school.  That's particularly true for a school like Harvard that would likely be taking top 10% GRE scores who could, if they sat for the test, surely score a 165+ on the LSAT fairly easily.

Of course, Harvard is but one of over two hundred law schools, and it's the exception, albeit one that absurdly sets trends. 

Absent controlled studies of how a particular GRE score correlates to a particular LSAT score, this move simply gives applicants two bites at the apple, and schools yet another number to manipulate in their favor in compilation form.  This is particularly troubling in an age when the declining applicant pool has led to declining LSAT numbers and often correlates with declining bar passage rates three years later.

How do GRE scores correlate with bar passage rates?  Anyone have anything close to an educated guess?  Sounds like once the rest of the schools follow Arizona and Harvard's lead, they've got at least a five year window before there's enough data to show anything worth reporting.

There are other obvious problems with Harvard's reasoning, such as:
  • Nothing stops those students from taking the LSAT;
  • Nothing stopped law schools from accepting the GRE years ago;
  • Nothing stops the LSAT from being as accessible as the GRE;
  • If you're legitimately worried about your students' ability to drop the two hundred bucks for the LSAT, set up a voucher/scholarship program...and if that's a concern, maybe it's a good time to ask whether students in such financial straits are really good options to incur hundreds of thousands in student loan debt.
But to me the biggest problem is that it exposes the fallacy of a stupid argument law schools have been making, at least prior to this newfound skepticism of the LSAT that just so happens to correspond with declining LSAT scores.

Do you remember, like 2011ish, when we got arguments like this one?
Kent Syverud, dean of the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, where applications this year declined more than 11%, said it was a good thing prospective students now were more “clear eyed” about the risks and rewards of a law degree.
“The froth in the applicant pool—those who were just going to law school because they didn’t know what else to do and everyone told them it was a safe bet—is pretty well gone,” he said.
 And here's Sheli Soto, Arizona State, spring of 2012:
"I do think one of the key results in that national discussion is that students who are looking at graduate school and law are being much more serious and deliberate (about) whether or not they want to apply to law school."
And here's Jerry Organ making a corollary argument just a year and a half ago:
[W]ith the decline in the number of applicants to law school, one might surmise that those choosing to go to law school really are serious about their investment in a legal education and may be working harder to be successful in law school...
Yup, better quality applicant pool - at least in terms of focus and commitment.  There's never really been any empirical evidence for it (how would prove seriousness?), but it's an argument we've heard repeatedly post-decline: that an advantage of a smaller applicant pool is that the students no longer applying were the least interested in eventually being lawyers.

Doesn't this shift away from the LSAT completely demolish this stupid argument, at least as to the benefits claimed by law school apologists?

If there's one thing a serious law school applicant will do, it's prepare-for and take the LSAT.  Arguably the LSAT - which is not without its problems - serves as a rudimentary gatekeeper for "seriousness."  Those not willing to plunk $160 and sit a few hours on a Saturday morning?  Not serious about law school.

If law schools had any interest in an applicant's level of determination, seriousness, personal investment, whatever, there would be no discussion whatsoever of dropping the LSAT or seeking alternatives. 

In reality, law schools generally don't know an applicant's "seriousness" and they really don't give a shit.

By allowing the GRE, law schools like Arizona, Harvard, and soon to be many others, are opening their gluttonous mouths wide for the same "froth" they pretended was a bane to the pre-decline law school world.

That froth - assuming the law schools ever had the palette to discovery it - only tasted remotely sour before this whole thing with declining LSATs and bar passage rates.  Now that froth is the sweet and savory deliciousness of knowledge diversity and access for those of all backgrounds.

So go ahead, law schools, and admit applicants on the LSAT, GRE, spelling bee, or on sending twenty cereal boxtops to a PO Box in Pooville. 

Just never tell us again about how the applications are more "serious" or "focused" when they can't even be bothered to take the standard admissions test.


  1. This terrible sign presages the widespread introduction of the GRE, and maybe even other tests, in lieu of the LSAT. As Harvard goes, so goes Cooley.

    The argument about seriousness seems particularly silly in light of Minow's disingenuous complaint about the cost of "preparing for and taking both the GRE and the LSAT". People who are serious about law school take only the LSAT. Those who take the GRE as well show an interest in pursuing a degree other than the JD.

    I oppose any effort to supplant or displace the LSAT. Indeed, I'd give the LSAT more prominence by imposing minimum scores.

    1. Harvard dropped in applicants two years ago and did not recover. Their LSAT scores and GPAs dropped as well.

      At the other end, they are not placing an acceptable percentage of their grads in good jobs that warrant having gotten the degree, as per Law School Transparency. They had to take 50 transfers students a year ago - a sign that the gates of selectivity have crumbled.

      This is just an excuse for a fishing expedition - flailing around trying to get more talented candidates. It does not change the awful supply/demand imbalance that is driving many smart people away from law.

      Go into this and you are as likely as not to be hung out to dry, even from Harvard.

      Every school has its successes. Clayton, the new SEC Chair nominee, is double Penn, and a very successful partner at Sullivan & Cromwell. The few success stories are divided among many law schools, not just Harvard, which devalues the Harvard Law degree even more.

    2. this is absurd. Harvard is an intsutiont with a reputation to protect. what's going on there? it soils the rest of the business so to spek

  2. The GRE is divided into three sections: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. The sections are scored separately. I predict that despite all the talk that "law needs students with science, technology, engineering and math backgrounds," the admission committee of most law schools will simply ignore the quantitative score. I also would bet that most of the applicants submitting GRE scores will score abysmally on the quantitative section and it will be interesting if law schools will have to publish the range of scores of all the sections for the accepted applicants. We can expect a push from the law schools to only publish the verbal reasoning and anylytical writing scores, which undercuts one of the primary rationales for accepting the GRE.

    1. And at least when I took it, the quantitative section was mostly algebra, trig, geometry, and pre-calc...which means almost nothing in terms of needing STEM folks. Good liberal artists can nail geometry without having a clue as to software development, pharmaceutical patents, or robotic factory assembly.

    2. Was an undergrad at Harvard, Yale or Stanford. The class was at the median in the 98th percentile on a math SAT and would be close to that percentile on the GRE. If you are good at math, the math part comes easy. You don't have to do much. Beats studying for the LSAT, which is a little harder.

      People in my undergrad class chose law because they thought it was a promising career. For some it was. For others, not so much. Most people had no thought of avoiding math, because math was a strong point for most undergrads at these schools. That is why they made the cut of 8% acceptance rates for undergrad.

    3. Trigonometry on the GRE? Not when I took it. Admittedly, that was a quarter-century ago.

    4. Old Guy, you are correct, I took the GRE twice in the past decade and there is no Trigonometry.

    5. BUT, I seriously doubt that the mouthbreathers that attend the nation's lower tier schools can obtain anything close to a respectable score on the quantitative section of the GRE. And I think that accepting GRE scores for those schools is a "be careful what you ask for" moment. Student who attend grad schools are actually the serious ones, at least about their subjects. The 0Ls taking the GRE for a host of other reasons than being drawn to the law. They will be up against serious students and may not fare as well, even in the verbal sections.

  3. Bigger net = bigger catch.

  4. Maybe the ABA, which is run by law school pigs, will allow further bifurcation of the "profession" by permitting second tier sewers and below to accept completed coloring books and 50 piece puzzles from applicants. After all, we need more "social justice warriors" out there!

    1. In kindergarten, I was scolded for not coloring within the lines. Do I still have a chance at Appalachian?

    2. I think that's a great idea, Nando. I'm sure eventually, judges will accept briefs written in macaroni or play-doh, which is the direction these law schools are headed with respect to admissions standards.

  5. The spiel about only “serious students” going to law school was merely desperate deans grasping at straws and trying to convince people (and maybe even themselves) that the drop in law school applications/enrollment had a silver lining. It was a bunch of bullshit, and we called it so at the time. The only thing that matters to the scam deans is putting asses in seats. And if the GRE facilitates this, they are all for it.

    Also, off topic, the new rankings are out and G-Town dropped out of the top 14. Probably should have happened a while ago given its plummeting LSAT scores, massive class sizes, large number of transfer students, and dicey employment outcomes for a so-called “elite” school.

    1. are u referring to usnwr? otherwise, we dont care.

      actually no one cares about elite law school ranking movements except those in those schools.

    2. That means that the "top 14" has ceased to be, since it is defined by its stability (always the same fourteen schools).

  6. It's hard to understand why Harvard would make this move, and essentially try to undercut the "validity" of the LSAT. Why have different tests at all? Why not just have a "Universal Graduate Studies Entrance Exam" (UGSEE, (tm), you heard it hear first) that allows anyone to go to graduate school for anything, from MFAs to PhDs to JDs to MBAs to MDs?

    Because all of those fields are exactly alike, anyways...

    Harvard grads will be "fine" whether they take the LSAT, the GRE, or send in a coloring page - 98% of them had the resources and social capital before attending to have had exceptional opportunities, educations, and backing to be successful. The Harvard stamp of approval, while valuable in its own right for both the education received and the alumni networks, only certifies what people already knew, and amplifies it accordingly.

    Students to Charlotte School of Law, by comparison, will have none of that. But I can hear the ScamDeans and LawPrawfs sharpening their knives already...look, we're doing what Harvard is doing, so that means we are just a good...!!!!111!!1!!1eleven111!

    1. Universities should also eliminate standards for their athletic teams. Since Bumblefuck U admits every jackanapes to its law school, it should make Old Guy quarterback, even though he has only a hazy knowledge of the rules of football.

    2. 7:55 Harvard grads will not be fine. Many will struggle. When one hits middle age, the value of a Harvard Law degree almost totally disappears. It is only about the jobs one has had and one's resume.

      Harvard graduates much too many lawyers. They need to halve their class size to equalize supply and longitudinal demand for their lawyers in full-time permanent attorney jobs.

      After many years in big law, I see very few Harvard Law grads made partner in the law firms where I worked or among lawyers I knew, even casually.

      Lawyer oversupply is oversupply, and it makes a Harvard Law degree about as valuable as a degree from the Harvard School of Basketweaving a few years after graduation. That is if one needs to find a new job.

      Harvard does not protect most people against the massive wrenching job losses the legal industry is suffering, all to bring in the next class of lawyers. Harvard does not protect you against being pushed out of your job by the next generation of lawyers, which is exactly what is happening in this up or out class year hiring profession that is shrinking slowly and surely not growing.

  7. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingMarch 9, 2017 at 9:01 AM

    Harvard knows what I see everyday. Those Chicagoland Billboards for Traffic Ticket Defense Lawyers for $49.00. Who with an ounce of smarts wants to enter a profession, even with a Harvard pedigree, with market conditions like that? Raise your hands if you want to join that profession? I don't see any parent saying to young Liam or Amber. "Gee why don't you sell used cars, err I mean be a billboard Traffic Defense Lawyer." Harvard knows.....

  8. Since when do they need more STEM people? I'm a STEM patent attorney and I can tell you that the field is flooded (with hungry mouths, not paying work) and outside of a handful of large cities, there's practically no job market in patent work anyway. After several years flailing around hopelessly in the patent law market, I eventually found out that things have actually been pretty bad since the 90s but absolutely dismal since 2008.

    Comparing the job market for CS patent attorneys vs the job market for even inexperienced java programmers is an eye opener. If you have a CS degree (or even if you don't to be honest) you're better off skipping law school and putting your resume out immediately for programming work. And that's even without opportunity cost factored in. You will literally have better job and career prospects as a no-degree programmer than as a fully credentialed CS patent attorney.

    This entire thing really has nothing to do with STEM candidates but is really an exercise at disrupting the downward trend in LSAT scores by introducing a new variable that will make it harder to directly compare the pre and post 2017 LSAT scores. But make no mistake, the trend will continue because the fundamentals haven't changed.

    All the smart money has already left the scam. Look at the massive drop off in applicants from elite undergrad schools and from people with good LSATs. The law schools are just trying to postpone the mad scramble that will follow when the bottom 90 percent of applicants figure out what is going on and the scheme collapses.

    1. I confirm that this is correct. I am a patent attorney with 23 years experience. I know a long list of colleagues, all very smart and highly credentialed including M.D., Ph.D., E.E., M.S. degrees along with their J.D., who are not working. That's right, they are unemployed, and many of them have 20, 25 or 30 years of experience, some of whom were former partners in law firms, and some of whom are Stanford, UCLA, USC, Berkeley, Georgetown law school graduates. The patent field is COMPLETELY GLUTTED. I would not be able to get a first job at all in the field now, and with 23 years experience, I make less money in 2017 than I did in 2000.

    2. Dumb to get a JD after an MD.

    3. One should be very cautious about going into patent law if they have a computer science background.

      Aside from the great difficulty in finding jobs, software patents may be in real trouble right now. The Supreme Court has recently made a string of holdings (starting with In re Bilski in 2010) that has limited what subject matter can be awarded a method patent. This is significant, because software patents are protected as method patents.

      Admittedly, I was just a humble patent lawyer (no longer practicing), but I did notice more section 101 rejections in the years since Bilski--these are rejections issued by the patent office indicating that the subject matter of the application is not eligible for patent protection. Also important to note was that the Supreme Court held 9-0 or 8-1 for the five or so cases since Bilski that deal with method patents, so the Justices are all on the same page here.

      Bottom line: I really think one should consult a legal expert before deciding they want to do patent law. If the scope of patent protection keeps getting smaller, it may be harder and harder to find a job.

      Note that this is NOT just relevant for software patents. It also affects medical procedures, chemical processes, etc. Method patents can cover a huge scope of subject matter.

    4. 10:29 here. Yeah, I have noticed that the supreme court has been kinda-sorta inching towards software = abstract idea direction. It made me feel kinda smug about going back into programming when I did. The whole art of drafting software so it gets around 101 has always struck me slightly fishy.

      That being said, the dominant attitude of the courts towards software patents seems to mainly be one of confusion. These guys don't fundamentally "get" programming or computers because most of them are the same age cohort as my parents and they're lawyers, which pretty much throws math and computer literacy out the window.

      I personally feel that something like a merge sort or a hashtable should be a patentable invention (yes, I know they have been around since the dawn of time). That being said, they are both made up entirely of math. There is abstraction (ie, hidden math) between a programmer saying "use a string as a key for this hashtable" and the mathematical operations that accomplish it, but it's still just math all the way down. But it doesn't stop with simple data structures and algorithms. When you get around to saying something more complex and arguably brilliant like node.js, or an algorithm to diagnose diseases or find a cure for cancer is an invention you run into the problem that it's all math at the end of the day. Once courts start to really grasp how it all works, either congress will have to revise 101 or the courts will have to start tossing software patents wholesale. But I wouldn't hole my breath.

      Either way, going into patent law, CS or no, seems to be a bad idea of late.

      It's ironic that I only started making a biglaw money once I left law. I wonder if they count my salary in the lawyer salary stats.

    5. @10:29 -- 7:56 here

      Admittedly, most of what I know about software patents is through diffusion. People at my firm have worked on them, thus I pick up a thing or two along the way. I, myself, have never worked on them, at least not to any significant degree.

      However, I hear a lot of electrical engineers and/or computer science people talk about getting into patent law, and I think their expectations are a bit unrealistic.

      Regarding patents for medical procedures, that I can tell you has been affected by the whole Bilski "trend." If you're interested, look-up Mayo Collaborative Services vs. Prometheus Laboratories, which in effect applies Bilski to methods for using drugs to treat patients.

      My personal opinion is that the USPTO has been too liberal in granting patents, and the quality of many (dare I say most) patents is very low. The courts are absolutely correct in limiting the scope of patent protection.

    6. There has been a glut in patent for a long time. All the broke STEM PhDs that couldn't get a professorship figured they'd go to law school. This flooded the market of course.

      Also meant a mere undergrad degree plus the law degree were not going to be enough. But if you already have the undergrad, the doctorate, and years of experience and need to get even more schooling on top of that, you've wasted so much of your life already. Even if it works out, it was a bad bet.

      The only parts of STEM that have worked out have been medicine for the S, elite programming for T, electrical for the E, and for M maybe actuary and a few government positions. These are all very limited in supply.

    7. Having a solid CS background doesn't guarantee shit in patent. Believe me, I tried.

      Through my industry contacts from before law school, I did manage to get a few interviews but at the end of the day the market is just too damn unforgiving. Unless you're EXACTLY the candidate they're looking for (right age, right school, right graduation year, etc), they still won't take a second look at you. And that's after you've already gotten through the door via contacts and are sitting on what would normally be a "sure thing." At the end of the day, even if you take a perfect angle of attack you're basically gambling that the stars are right and all the partners signing off on you had the right thing for breakfast.

      If you put that same level of effort and networking capital into getting a programming job, you'll be hired before the end of the week and for more money. In most areas in the country there are programming jobs but no patent lawyer jobs. In the areas where there are openings in both, the programming stuff almost always pays a lot better.

  9. Within a year, all law schools will accept either the LSAT or the GRE...thanks Harvard.
    And coming soon to a TTT near you-no requirement to take any standardized test of any type. Simple GPA will do, thanks, no need for that other stuff.
    Gotta give the scammers credit, though, in this case they'll simply be following Harvard's lead. Talk about cover!

  10. This is good news. Even the mighty Harvard is looking for ways to find better quality applicants.

  11. Today is jobs Friday - the day the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly jobs report is issued. Over 235,000 jobs created this month, a great report, but again legal services jobs have declined. In fact, if you look back at least 10 years, legal services jobs have declined.

    Even Harvard Law School cannot overcome the lack of new jobs. In fact, no new jobs have been created net in legal services for at least a decade.

    I am seeing people in my practice area losing jobs consistently, at an alarming rate. Some of these people are middle aged and some are older, and some are young. At the same time, big law is bringing new hires right out of law school into the practice area without regard to the massive job losses of the lawyers who had those big law positions in the past.

    You are really playing with fire going to law school today. If Harvard and Columbia Law are dropping in the ranks, they deserve it because their classes are too big and their transfer classes are a fraud to game the system. At the same time, many experienced grads of Harvard and Columbia do not have full-time permanent legal jobs after exhaustive, years long job searches.

    Law is not the career of today. For most people it is the career of past. Only a very few of todays's law graduates will have a long-term successful career that warrants going to law school, let alone a top law school like Harvard or Columbia. You are playing the lottery if you think you can be in that group of few.

  12. Seriously, even Harvard is lowering its standards??

    This is really pathetic.

    1. Harvard's law school is huge, second only to Georgetown's (and just barely) in first-year enrollment. Harvard, of course, draws overwhelmingly from the top end—the upper 160s and higher. But that group increasingly avoids law school altogether. It's already a small group, with only 2000 people scoring 170 or higher. So, yes, Harvard has trouble filling its class with people of the caliber that it has traditionally sought.

    2. Each class at Harvard is over 550 students. Harvard and Georgetown are more like lawyer-factories.

  13. True that. My brother is a middle aged Harvard grad and after several trips through big law and despite several some very big wins, his revenue dropped for a few years and he got tossed out. I am a tier 50 grad who gets resumes from top 10 lawyers - business is business , and if you're 8-10 years out without a book of portables of $500,000, mid law won't look at you, let alone big law.

  14. Just looking at all the blogs to the side on leaving the law. For any lawyer who has worked in a high paying job, most of the leaving the law jobs are low paying paralegal or BA required jobs. If you have gone to a top caliber law school and you are taking a consultant job of some type for $52,000 plus bonus, you have lost the value of your law degree. A pyrrhic victory. The advice to leave the law leaves you with a low salary that does cover the cost of law school.

  15. Headline in the San Francisco Chronicle now . . . "California bar exam's passing score should be lowered, critics say"

    Passage rates are understandably down though the cut scoring has remained constant.

    "In recent weeks, a growing chorus of voices - from state legislators to law school deans to court officials - have registered urgent concerns that the lowest score needed to pass the exam, commonly referred to as the "cut score," is too high, flunking would-be attorneys . . . "

    " . . . it disproportionately disadvantages lower-income and minority students."

    I took the CA bar and another state bar within the same month. The CA bar was easy, much easier than the other state bar. But California allows unaccredited law school grads to sit for the bar, and with those schools passage rates are especially low, and a huge reservoir of bar failing grads take and re-take the exam, adding to the "low" passage rate.

  16. I am one of the fortunate ones, working for a state court now, graduating from law school when few had student debt and a part time job would pay the modest tuition. It has been sad to witness the destruction of law as a viable career by the scammers.

    Recently I had my arm twisted to counsel a couple of newer lawyers who were desperately unemployed. Quickly in the conversations I realized that they unquestionably lacked the intellects necessary to succeed in law, or any field requiring significant intelligence and reasoning. To their annoyance, I advised them to find some other field of endeavor. That they had gained admission to law school was a testimony to how low standards had fallen.

    In contrast, the writers and commentators on this site greatly impress me with their astuteness. Their words and wit are those of the highest caliber of lawyers, who in any fair system should not have a desperate scramble to find employment. My hat is off to them as they attempt to navigate the now dystopian legal world that the greedy scammers have created and continue to poison.

    A quaint quote from Andrew Lytle comes to mind: “We have been slobbered upon by those who have chewed the mad root’s poison, a poison which penetrates to the spirit and rots the soul.”

  17. The diminishing legal market requires higher, not lower qualifications of lawyers, and unquestionably fewer lawyers.

    A few decades ago, after working some years for an older lawyer, I hung out my solo shingle in a prosperous yet legally underserved region. I was booked solid the first day and thereafter. I did pause to consider what I was selling to my clients, which consisted of:

    1. My access to my own expensive subscription law library, all paper, and my ability to find what was needed in that library.
    2. My knowledge and experience, gained from law school followed by intensive training under a tough old lawyer for half a dozen years.
    3. Politically incorrect, a certain IQ, i.e. innate cognitive reasoning skills which could be rented to clients to solve unique and sometimes very difficult problems.

    More recent law grads face an entirely different and much bleaker legal landscape today. The internet provides everyone with access to legal materials which could once only be obtained by a lawyer's expensive private subscriptions. "How-To" materials, apps, and videos encourage and enable the general public to represent themselves in routine cases which would previously have absolutely required an attorney to handle properly. These were the routine processes that previously gave me and many other younger lawyers a financial start, but they now often do not involve hired lawyers at all. I see a huge and growing volume of pro per self-representation in my court.

    It has become much harder for a newer lawyer to gain a sufficient volume of marketable experience under competent supervision to add to the knowledge obtained in law school.

    Previously, law schools were highly selective and the vast bulk of graduates who passed the bar were relatively cognitively gifted and adept by virtue of intellect at solving novel problems. There were always some who squeaked through and left one wondering how they did it with so little intellectual horsepower, but they were rare. Over the years, the less cognitively gifted have become much more common in the mix as standards have declined. There are still superbly gifted newer grads, as noted in the preceding post and evidenced by the insights of those who post to this site. But they are awash in a sea of cognitively less astute aspirants.

    On top of all this, in my court and in most, court filings of almost all kinds have declined precipitously, civil and criminal, diminishing the market for professional legal services even more.

    As a result of all these factors, far fewer lawyers are needed than previously, and only the most competent and astute lawyers are really needed in the current marketplace. The schools have responded with the exact opposite of what is needed.

    1. Completely agreed. There is such overcapacity in my practice area in most law firms, it is ridiculous. This is among lawyers who have good jobs in big law, mid law or boutiques. Some of the boutiques and mid law jobs are involuntary part-time work or as needed, which means many less hours than part time.

      Many lawyers are getting fired and not getting replacement jobs due to overcapacity in the law firms.

      There is no place to turn to earn a dime in the legal profession. The temporary jobs are few and far between and they are very competitive. Of course, they put the lawyer out on the street potentially unemployed for months and months when the temporary job ends

      Most of the lawyers getting in house jobs are in their 30s or early 40s. In your 50s or older, you may have a lot of trouble working with really elite degrees.

      You are so right that the legal profession has completely changed for the worse, and needs many, many fewer lawyers than in the past, and maybe a third of the lawyers who are graduating today if you count starving solos and jobs that no lawyer can hold after a few years of experience, like clerkships and most associate jobs in law firms.

    2. "....court filings of almost all kinds have declined precipitously"

      Why is that? Any thoughts?

  18. I am an old lawyer... graduating in the days when tuition was low and jobs plentiful. I am slowing down longer advertising, just basically trying to close out my cases without losing money over what I bring in... spend a lot of time reading the financials these days...may go into "day trading" for my remaining is the thing, I've been reading David Stockman's Contra corner for a while...I like him because you get the facts, and since he was Reagan's Budget director and then was on Wallstreet for a long time, he knows what he is talking about... not the bullsh^t like you usually do about the Jobs report, etc. If you want to know the truth about the pathetic jobs created this century, pick up a $29.00 subscription and read this weeks reports...he posts Monday through Friday. In summary, Well paying jobs being created are well short of where they have been in the past... so its not just lawyers looking for jobs...its everybody. Of note... he said today... march 15th, with the debt ceiling deadline being met... its all over. I'll try posting his report next post if not too long.

    1. The difference between law and other careers is that today, many jobs in health care come with job security and decent income. Governmental jobs that are unionized come with job security and a decent income as well.

      Agreed that not all new college or other grads are getting jobs that warrant a college degree though.

      The oversupply of lawyers has made law a uniquely horrific professional disaster area because so many lawyers who came from big law or top law schools are outright unemployed in an economy that is creating jobs. That is on top of hundreds of thousands of toileteers, who should have never gone to law school in the first place because they were 95% doomed for failure before they took the LSAT.

    2. About that job security and income in health care. In can personally vouch for this. It's like the anti-matter version of the legal profession.

      My wife's a nurse. She's been out of nursing school about two years but she already makes more than I ever made as a lawyer, with no rainmaking, billing hassles or anything. She just shows up to work and they shovel money into our bank account. In a couple of years she'll be making more than me. For a woman in her 20s, there is nothing that compares to nursing in terms of job security and pay. Nothing else in this economy compares to it.

      The job security in health care is also insane. There are actually a bunch of nurses in her hospital who are on probation for stealing meds. But get this- instead of sending them to prison or even firing them, they put them in a rehab program to teach them not to be pillheads.

    3. @10:21 -- "...instead of sending them to prison or even firing them, they put them in a rehab program to teach them not to be pillheads"

      I think this has less to do with them being nurses and/or job security in healthcare, and more to do with certain other considerations--things that are not "politically correct," so we won't discuss them here.

      That being said, you are absolutely correct. Nursing has become a fabulous profession.

    4. With the new health care plan being pushed through Congress by the GOP, there will be less demand for medical services from the patients in government programs that reimbursed doctors at a very low level, mainly Medicare and Medicaid. Probably will not affect the bread and butter business of employer health plans as currently proposed. The GOP bill could have an impact on how many doctors and other medical professionals are needed in the long run.

      What is ominous is that Mayo Clinic just announced on their website that they are treating patients in employer health plans before those in Medicare and Medicaid. That is pretty sickening, but not relevant to this blog.

      Imagine being a doctor and being told by Mayo Clinic to let the Medicare and Medicaid patients die because there is a private pay patient with a similar illness whose employer is paying more than the government.

  19. "On top of all this, in my court and in most, court filings of almost all kinds have declined precipitously, civil and criminal, diminishing the market for professional legal services even more."

    The exact opposite is happening to federal Social Security. Here's the trend for federal court Social Security EAJA fees paid out. That's a 100% increase in six years:

    2010 $19,743,189.12
    2011 $21,668,646.47
    2012 $24,666,171.13
    2013 $27,720,951.87
    2014 $31,637,462.36
    2015 $38,132,381.48
    2016 $40,045,962.42

  20. It is really important for commenters to repeat, again and again, on this blog that the employment outcomes for graduates of elite law schools are terrible for lawyers in their early 50s and older.

    College students enrolling in top law schools assume that the employment outcomes in the high 80 percentiles for first years will continue for their careers and that the law school scam will not affect them. That is so untrue for all the reasons covered in the posts and comments on this blog. It is almost impossible to leave the law for another job that will even hit six figures in a high cost area when a lawyer is in their 50s, and the employers with legal jobs will not hire them.

    Going to an elite law school is a bad deal for a good percentage top college graduates who enrolled 25 years ago or more. For many graduates, and most women and minorities, an elite law degree has not panned out into a long-term career with full-time permanent legal jobs.

    Take a look at this report on law firms showing unreliable demand for law firm services, a surplus of lawyers in law firms and recommending that firms step up to the plate to fire lawyers without enough work, and replace them with contract workers.
    Not a pretty picture for any top college student considering law as a career.

    1. That's correct. Employers think, You're a lawyer!!!!!!!!! What do you need a job for? I needed a law job in my late 40s because my Solo practice tanked. I went to a local political guy and did some "pro bono" work for him. I asked him to help me get a job. His response: "You're a lawyer. I saw an armored car in town. Thought he was delivering your cash." I kid you not.

  21. "For many graduates, and most women and minorities, an elite law degree has not panned out into a long-term career with full-time permanent legal jobs." Truer words were never spoken!!