Thursday, February 22, 2018

Scambloggers Weren't Making Stuff Up, After All

Hard to believe, but it's true!

In a Gallup poll of over 4,000 American adults who earned a postgraduate degree between 2000 and 2015, just 23 percent of law school graduates said that their education was worth the cost and only 20 percent said that their schooling prepared them well for post-grad life...

"While both medical and law degrees are expensive, law degree holders may be less likely to say their degree was worth the cost because of the weak job market for those with a law degree in recent years," hypothesizes Gallup.

Well, it's a hard-knock life for the average law graduate, yes, but surely law school prepped these graduates for the road ahead...

Another reason that law school graduates have such a negative view of their education is their relationships — or lack thereof — with their professors. Just 24 percent of J.D. holders felt that their professors cared about them as a person and only 19 percent said they had a collegiate mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams.

These negative experiences were not consistent across other types of graduate students.

I'm sure career services has something more positive to add...

Law school admissions and career counselor Laura Hosid says students should consider the job market, their career goals and their ability to get into a top-tier program before they take the law school plunge.

"Yes, technically you can do anything with a law degree," she tells CNBC Make It. "But that doesn't mean you should."

Wait, what?  That's just scamblog crazy-talk!  What happened to public service?  Or JD-Advantage?  I thought law was all models and bottles!  Or so the deans said...!  Wait, let me dig back through the hundreds of posts here on OTLSS, I *know* they said it somewhere...

Never-mind folks, it looks like there has been a stunning reversal in the law school market.  Apparently the scambloggers were wrong all along, but it is only as of 2018 that there is vocal discontent among graduates and law schools are now counseling restraint against taking the plunge.  No one could have seen this coming, not even a bunch of debt-burdened, bar-licensed malcontents, I guess.

0Ls, pay heed.  Let this be fair warning.


  1. "between 2000 and 2015"

    Some of these respondents graduated almost a generation ago. Even in those relatively halcyon days, law skool was a bad decision.

  2. The biggest problem with law school is the extreme oversupply of law school graduates vs jobs that do not involve being a solo practice. There are more than two and a half times as many law school grads of working age as non-solo lawyer jobs and more than two times as many lawyers as non-solo jobs for lawyers in the US.

    Law is a profession that will be a lifelong struggle against unemployment and underemployment for most people who actually try to work a career as lawyers. Many will end up in jobs that have nothing to do with law like proctoring exams or working at Starbucks.

    If you want to spend years of your life on the internet desperately searching for jobs and years more desperately searching for clients, law is the profession for you.

    Oh, yes, counting all law school graduates and all licensed lawyers, the median salary for both groups is probably closer to $50,000 or $60,000 a year - not better than for college grads. That includes the self employed lawyers where no one is keeping track of incomes and people who cannot use their law degrees at all because they cannot get lawyer jobs.

    Big law graduates are no longer finding a great placement rate into follow on jobs with six figure incomes and health insurance because there are not enough of those jobs. So that fancy degree may be great while you are walking the hallowed halls, but be a total washout - worthless degree - once you hit middle age.

    Good luck with your law degree.

  3. I was at Hofstra during the reign of scam dean Nora Demleitner, and I am among the 77% of dissatisfied law school graduates. The biggest problem is how much we were lied to. It was such a wonderful law school, but despite crippling debt, most of my friends didn't get jobs. You can't cheat people then expect them to love you.

    1. do not take Nora Demleitner's class if you are a person of color.

  4. I looked at the Gallup article, it is linked from the CNBC article, and the 23% number for law grads thinking that their degree was worth the cost is the percentage who strongly agreed with that statement. The law degree had a much lower score than any of the other listed degrees but it is strange that only the "strongly agree" response is listed. The article doesn't even describe what the other possible responses were. People should be careful not to say that 23% of law grads agree that their degree was worth the cost. Only 23% strongly agree, and that stinks compared to other degrees, but we don't know how many agree-less-than-strongly.

    This should still be a warning to applicants that they face borrowing a ton of money with a low probability of strongly feeling it was a worthwhile expense.

  5. The big problem is the decline in demand for law firm services even if you have a job. It is very hard to stay employed in a full-time, permanent law firm job for which you are paid to work at least 40 hours a week because the demand for law firm services is sagging. Unless you are 28 or 32 years old with good legal experience, there is poor demand for your legal services in house. Most of the in-house jobs are filled directly from big law with lawyers under the age of 35.

    Effectively, most of these degrees, including many elite law degrees are worthless economically after several years. The big change is that businesses can wing it and forgo lawyers for most transactions.

    The effect of the lawyer oversupply is and will be a continuing decline in median lawyer incomes and a deterioration of working conditions. Why pay $180,000 plus health insurance for a lawyer when there is a huge supply of former vault 10 associates available to temp at $40 an hour for 20 hours a week with no employer paid health insurance in expensive cities like NY and LA?

    Law is going to get worse and worse because the oversupply is getting worse and worse each year.

    1. 5:23, I’ve pointed this out before, and I’ll point this out again to support what you are saying with numbers. According to the BEA data published on their website, the U.S. economy grew 51% between 1997 and 2016. The real value added (real GDP) of many industries grew over that period of time. Finance and insurance grew 80% despite taking a huge plunge in 2008. Healthcare and social assistance grew 61%. Computer systems design and related services grew 288%. The number of industries that grew between 1997 and 2016 are too numerous to list in this comment.

      The legal services industry declined almost 3% over that period of time! But the total number of licensed attorneys increased 38%! Despite more licensed attorneys, the total output of these attorneys today is less than the output in 1997. Demand for legal services has substantially declined.

      The law schools are really good at distracting applicants from the dismal legal market. “We’ll make you practice ready, prepare you with mock interviews, review your resume.” None of that increases the demand for legal services. Applicants see that big law associates are making $150-200k and think, “that will be me. The legal market is booming.” Again, the legal market is not the same as the textbook market studied in Econ 101. Corporations looking for legal services only hire top legal talent – graduates of top law schools working at top law firms. Those law firms have a different business model than the typical business. Law firms employ an up or out system. They hire a class of law grads, work them like slaves a few years, promote a few of them to partner and fire the rest.

  6. I’m surprised so many people are dissatisfied with their law degree. Even though I never used the degree, I know one day it will come in handy. I belonged to the unfortunate 1% of law grads unemployed back in the mid 2000s when the legal market was booming. I just wasn’t qualified to work at a big law firm, toilet law firm, prosecutor office, public defender office, government law department, or judicial clerkship. Lucky for me, the much less prestigious medical profession took in a loser like me. I know a lot of people in that 1% unemployed category. Other people I know had to pursue “JD advantage” career paths like getting an MBA to go into business.

    Lucky for us, the law degree is versatile. I am waiting to one day put the knowledge I learned to use. When one of my friends goes hunting for a fox and gets into a dispute with another hunter, I’ll be ready to solve that problem armed with the law. I can’t write a will for myself or my friends, but I’ll help them navigate the rule against perpetuities. I could even advise them about utilizing the fee tail. I don’t know how to write a contract. But should a contract dispute arise over the meaning of chickens, I’ll be ready to jump in and help a friend. Hard to believe I only had to pay $150,000 for this knowledge.

    Count me in as extremely satisfied with the cost and benefit of my legal “education.”

    1. Maybe you should have gone to Med school initially rather than going to lawschool first. Me, I could not conceive of doing something as boring (by my perception) as medical school, dealing with blood and guts, prescribing the same medicines over and over for the same diseases to be seen over and over. Wearing a white coat and being a "doctor" would not make up for, imho, what I consider to be a dreadful profession. When I was in college, I thought about Medicine as a career, but in the end, lost interest in it and have never regretted once that decision. And having known many doctors over the years, I can't say any of them are more satisfied with the practice of medicine than successful lawyers are with the practice of law. But yea, for lawyers who can't make it in the profession, I can see why they would be very unhappy. Fortunately for myself, I graduated in the 80's, have had a successful career, and still find some of the things I do as a lawyer satisfying, especially when I win against the big, soulless corporations who scam consumers all over the place.

  7. Unlike the toilet schools in the US, Ghana's sole law school has given failing grades to 81% of the students who took the final exams for admission to the bar:

    The students are alleging that the process "lacked diligence and integrity", but there's no sign that the school is backing down—nor any sign that it should.

    If 81% of would-be graduates failed in the US, of course it would be the fault of anyone but the students. There would be calls not for remarking the exams but for abolishing them. Why shouldn't every dolt that the law schools admit be given a license to practice, perhaps at the bottom of a box of Cracker Jack?

    I hope that the Ghana School of Law will stand by its failing scores unless they are proven to be inappropriate.

  8. "My graduate school prepared me well for life outside of graduate school." (strongly agree): Master's of Arts beats law degree 23%-20% (and law degree ranks lowest among the six graduate degrees listed).

    "My education from graduate school was worth the cost" (strongly agree): MBA beats law degree 42%-23% (and law degree ranks lowest among the six graduate degrees listed).

    "I had a job or internship that allowed me to apply what I was learning in the classroom." (strongly agree): Law degree beats medical degree 58%-53% (and law degree ranks highest among the six degrees listed).

    It would seem that law schools are doing a far better job than they used to in incorporating real-world legal experience into the law school curriculum. It would also seem that it does not really matter. Volunteering, aka experiential learning, aka coops, aka internships, aka externships may give a law student the chance to see this or that principle of law being applied, but will not make a student practice-ready or reliably position him or her to obtain a decent-paying job in a stagnant market.

    1. The results of the question, “I had a job or internship that allowed me to apply what I was learning in the classroom” are suspect when it comes to the medical degree holders. Medical students cannot work a summer internship over at the hospital. Students have a few weeks off after M2 to take the USMLE Step 1 exam. Then the M3 and M4 year start during the summer. M3 and M4 year also are taught in the clinical setting. For instance, during the internal medicine rotation, students round on patients in the hospital. The students then present their findings, assessment, and plan to the resident and attending physician. During the surgery rotation, students spend the early morning hours rounding on patients and they spend the day scrubbing in on surgeries. Nobody works a job or an internship during medical school.

      Otherwise, having gone through law school and med school, I can attest that these results generally reflect how practitioners view their training. Med school does a good job teaching you the basic science to practice medicine. But med school does not teach you the business side of medicine or how to deal with social issues. Nor is there really time to teach those aspects of medicine. Which is probably why 50% of docs feel med school did not prepare them well for life outside of school. On the other hand, the law school curriculum is a complete joke.

      In my 3rd year of med school, I could diagnose and treat basic diseases. I could interpret lab results. I could read X-ray or CT scans and spot basic pathologies before the radiologist wrote their report. I could give my resident or attending a basic treatment plan. The doctors teaching me were practicing physicians and knew a lot about medicine.

      After graduating law school, I had no idea how to draft a complaint, how to voir dire potential jurors, how to draft jury instructions, how to write a contract, how to do a home closing, how to write a will. I didn’t know how to help someone with an adoption. The law professors teaching me worked in big law for a few years and then became professors. They had no idea how to practice law. Instead, law professors assigned us arcane cases to read and played hide the ball in class.

      These poll numbers should alert law schools that they need to change their model. Law schools could adopt the same approach as med schools. Teach students how to practice law. Rotate students through law offices specializing in particular areas of law, such as prosecutor offices, corporate law offices, personal injury offices. But law schools will not change though. The goal of law school is to transfer federal student loan dollars into the bank accounts of deans, professors, and the university, not to train future lawyers.

    2. Good comment. I graduated law school at the same time as a good friend graduated from med school. We were both Drs., he of medicine, I of law, but he had immense practical knowledge. Whereas I, after three years of doctoral-level study, had a mind littered with fragments of black-letter law and approximately zero ability to effectively assist a client on any matter. Oh, yeah, I could recite the Rule against Perpetuities.

      I have long advocated a modified apprenticeship model for law schools, where as you say, a student would be rotated through a series of law offices that specialize in a couple of practice areas of the student's choice. What we have now-- traditional instruction interspersed with a smattering of internships and clinics-- may give students a toe-in-the-water level of familiarity with some aspects of legal practice, but hardly adequate training for practice.

      Arguably, a law student ought not set foot in a classroom after the first year, except perhaps for a bar review course.

    3. Medical students are expected to know quite a bit before they start medical school. Law students, by contrast, aren't expected to know anything. Perhaps law students should be required to learn a lot of black-letter law on their own, rather than merely getting a bachelor's degree in underwater basketweaving.

      In any event, the poseurs who ru(i)n the legal academy plainly cannot teach the practice of law. Most of them don't even pretend to do so; indeed, they shrink from the word practice. They somehow imagine that pretentious musings about hip-hop and the Open Road™ are the bread and butter of legal training.

  9. It looks like Thomas Jefferson LS is circling the drain. Can't happen fast enough.

    1. Forty-three percent of the idiots coming out of Thomas Jefferson are "Non-Employed" ten months after graduation:

      Only a moron would go to a toilet like that.

  10. Respectfully to all, changing the Law School curriculum won't change the fundamental problem law school graduates face. There Are No Jobs for most law school grads. A "Practice Ready Professional" will be just as unemployed as a law school graduate who can't handle a shoplifting case. I have talked with recent law school grads whose class-mates are working in Amazon warehouses. . .or serving coffee.

    1. I agree. There are three problems with law schools -- they are way too expensive, there are way too many of them, and they are way too expensive.
      The only solution is to squeeze the federal loan spigot tightly. BTW, I'm an Ivy law graduate, former Biglaw income partner, and former Fortune 500 in-house cousel, and I'm stocking shelves on the graveyard shift. LEMMINGS BEWARE.

    2. You're wasting your valuable time, Dilbert.

      I'm glad Nando hung it up after 8 years. He did a great service but it's all mostly in vain.

      P.T. Barnum was right: There is indeed a sucker born every minute. Witness the following:

      People tried to talk this schmuck out of it but I guarantee you, he'll have none of it. Chalk up another "win" for the law school cartel.

      Btw, this (see link) was written in 2005. Does anyone think the patent / IP market has gotten better since then?

      See the reply by EE Patent Lawyer. Note the date - 2005.

      Work that was previously billed for $8 grand can now go for under $2000.

      And, why hire an American when an Ivan, Kumar, or Chang will do the same or better work for much, much less.

      There's another dumbass born every damn minute, it seems...

    3. One of the big problems with law is that getting a good job to start, or even for several years, does not assure a continuation of stable or well paying employment. Lots of former Fortune 50 in house counsels are now unemployed. A significant number of AmLaw 50, 100 or 200 partners are now underemployed in different law firm jobs. If you want employment stability, law is not your calling. The lawyer oversupply has hit lawyers very, very hard, with serious economic pain.

    4. Well, well.. Waddaya-know:

      I hope that dumbass on the Blunderground does go to law school..

      It's not every day you can CUT YOUR SALARY IN HALF, RIGHT?!?

      I mean.. Why not "double down"?

      You have market risk as an engineer already sooo... let's go for broke (literally..) and get double or even triple that risk with a J.D. - another white-collar degree which can be outsourced to the lowest / foreign workers.

      The above is called "research".

      He also forgot the opportunity cost analysis which someone also tried to point out to him.

      Honestly, would you hire this engineer to work for you?

      Dude's a dumbass..

  11. I'm feeling positive! There's lots and lots of recognition and reversal on the horizon! Betsy DeVos is apparently too retarded to know that an executive branch agency cannot change the bankruptcy code via its rule-making authority! But still, PLEASE do a post on this OTLSS: DOE seeking public comment on federal student loans and bankruptcy protection:

    Perhaps I'll forgive Trump for DeVos if the re-authorization of the Higher Education Act, which they're calling the Prosper Act this time around, passes the Senate complete with that CAP for grad schools at a measly like 25 grand per year in federal freebie monies!!!

    It's nice to be in a majority for once. Agreed: law school was a pathetic, pretentious rip-off and everything I needed to know to pass the bar I taught myself with the BarBri books only. WORTHLESS! JD-disadvantaged.

    BUT, since I'm feeling so very positive. Watch that denominator on the unemployment rate hit the floor. The Boomers are getting out. Demand what you're worth.

  12. Dilbert is spot on. I work for DHS as an employment law attorney. In our office we had a vacancy for a term position that will only last 13 months. We had 43 applicants many from Big Law and top tier law schools. I have been practicing for 37 years and have never seen such competition for a position that will simply go away. Still want to be a lawyer snowflake??

  13. I am surprised there were only 43 applicants. I remember when it was common for law firms to hire students to be "summer associates" between their second and third year of law school and pay them well, planning to hire them upon graduation. In 2018 I think law firms could charge students, by the hour, to work for them. Say, $50 bucks an hour to work for them for 50 hours a week, all summer. They could really make some money. Desperate students and their parents would happily pay so they could "get their foot in the door".