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December 31, 2012

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BoredJD

Steve- There has been a dialogue going on for years now, you just haven't been paying attention. Very few were paying attention until applications began to plummet and law schools could not fill seats and maintain medians. LST is attempting to engage academics and all they have received from you in return is baseless insinuations of profit-motive (which you quite poorly attempted to walk back from) and some Monday morning quarterbacking about SBAs.

If federal loan money and scholarships are still available, I do not see why the top tier is limited to "those with resources" or will disproportionately limit the entrance of women and minorities. If you believe there is a reactionary, racist and sexist undercurrent in law school education today just waiting to erupt- I wholeheartedly disagree.

We already have a two-tier system. There are schools where people are getting jobs to pay off their loans and there are schools where they are not. It does not do anybody, women or minorities included, any good to take on 200K in debt to not even get a job as a lawyer. If they are from disadvantaged backgrounds, it throws them right back into a precarious financial situation that higher education is supposed to blaze a path out of.

When OPM is at stake it might do to provide some actual evidence for the assertion that more $$$$ = better quality. You have presented no evidence of how that "second-tier" schools will produce poorer outcomes than your school. What evidence we is damning- schools at the bottom tier produce on average extremely poor outcomes for their graduates. Perhaps you are afraid graduates of "second-tier" schools might not be as disadvantaged as you think- either way, change accreditation standards and we can see.

newbie

"What this means is that, if you’re trying to relieve the oversupply of recent law graduates (or the undersupply of entry-level law jobs), tinkering with law-school curricula or instruction methods will not meaningfully touch the problem. Nor will simply lowering the cost of a law degree, which as I’ve already suggested in this space, seems more likely to increase the number of unemployable graduates as reduced price stimulates demand."

I apologize if my previous (deleted) post was not of a suitable tone. The problem is clearly identified here. If oversupply is a problem, the solution is to put less grads into the market. If anyone can answer the following questions, I would appreciate it. Why can't law schools simply make a conscious decision to admit and graduate fewer students? Why didn't they do that when the atrocious employment numbers came out? Why, with the BLS numbers as they are, will there be a ratio of 4:1 of graduates to new legal jobs?

Bernie Burk

Newbie (Jan. 7 at 1:08 p.m.), these are serious substantive questions that deserve discussion, as do the serious and substantive issues raised in your previous post. My question is why you think your earlier post was deleted. To my knowledge it has remained untouched as posted and is still on the site. Please check again.

--Bernie

Bernie Burk


Fellow readers:

There have been various requests that, as de facto moderator of this impromptu forum, I take some action with respect to certain content posted in the Comments. It seems appropriate to take a moment to disclose my perspective on the issues raised by those requests.

I wrote a post on the substantive merits of the reform proposals made by principals of the Law School Transparency organization. I was critical of a number of those proposals. My original post expressed those criticisms in terms that, I came to be persuaded, distracted from the actual substance of the discussion. I voluntarily pulled the post and rewrote it because I care more about the merits of these very important issues than I do about appearing clever, or personally discrediting someone with whom I happen to disagree. But that's just me.

The flood of comments appended to, and in some cases actually responding to, my post has reflected a range of passionately held views regarding what's wrong with legal education today, how we got here, and how we might make things better, many of which respond critically to others' views, sometimes in robust or downright cranky terms.

As often seems to happen on the Internet, a number of Commenters veered, in my view inappropropriately, into personal invective and ad hominem attack. Now several readers have asked me to delete Comments because they dislike the tone or substance of the post or disapprove of the Commenter's politics or tactics.

There are levels of abuse and irrelevancy that will cause me to delete Comments. We haven't reached them yet. That is not an invitation to test the boundaries of my distaste for censorship. It is an observation that the appropriate sanctions for the occasional abusive and irrelevant comments included in this stream to date are the self-executing realities that, in our marketplace of ideas, factually supported and soundly reasoned argument remains the gold standard; and that your readers will know you for what you are by what you say and how you say it.

For what it's worth, I urge you to attack the problems, not the people, or for that matter the instiutions the people teach at, or the company the people keep. But within broad limits, the consequences of failing to do so are going to be ones you inflict on yourself. Please pause and consider before you click "Post."

--Bernie

Technical question

Quick question since this thread is getting so much play.

When BLS says that there will be about 75k new lawyer jobs in the next decade, does that include current lawyers who retire/die/move out of law? It seems to me that whether or not the 400k grads are competing for 75k new jobs or whether they're competing for 75k new jobs PLUS whatever current jobs are vacated is a big deal.

(Not that the second scenario is particularly rosy -- just that it's much rosier than the first.)

Bob Strassfeld

Technical Question,

My understanding is that the 75k figure refers to new jobs, not including vacated ones. Consequently, focus on the 75k figure overstates the oversupply. Nevertheless, there still is an oversupply problem.

Samuel Gray

From this table (http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_102.htm) the BLS estimate for total openings for lawyers and clerks (job growth plus replacement needs) is 218,800 from 2010-2020.

Steve Diamond

I think the opinion in the New York Law School case by the Appellate Division of the NY Supreme Court makes a valuable contribution to the debate by reminding law schools - and all lawyers - in no uncertain terms their responsibilities, while tossing out the claims on the merits (cites omitted):

"We are not unsympathetic to plaintiffs' concerns. We recognize that students may be susceptible to misrepresentations by law school. As such, "[t]his Court does not necessarily agree [with Supreme Court] that [all] college graduates are particularly sophisticated in making career or business decisions". As a result, they sometimes make decisions to yoke themselves and their spouses and/or their children to a crushing burden because the schools have made misleading representations that give the impression that a full time job is easily obtainable when in fact it is not.

"Given this reality, it is important to remember that the practice of law is a noble profession that takes pride in its high ethical standards. Indeed, in order to join and continue to enjoy the privilege of being an active member of the legal profession, every prospective and active member of the profession is called upon to demonstrate candor and honesty. This requirement is not a trivial one. For the profession to continue to ensure that its members remain candid and honest public servants, all segments of the profession must work in concert to instill the importance of those values. "In the last analysis, the law is what the lawyers are. And the law and the lawyers are what the law schools make them." Defendant and its peers owe prospective students more than just barebones compliance with their legal obligations. Defendant and its peers are educational not-for-profit institutions . They should be dedicated to advancing the public welfare. In that vein, defendant and its peers have at least an ethical obligation of absolute candor to their prospective students."

I have sent it to all of my colleagues at SCU and posted a link to it on my twitter account recommending that all deans and professors read it.

The link is here: http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2012/2012_08819.htm

A link to the new (2011) ABA disclosure rules is here:

http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/legal_education_and_admissions_to_the_bar/council_reports_and_resolutions/2011_questionnaire_memo_deans_career_services_officers.authcheckdam.pdf

Here is a link to how we have implemented the new disclosure regime at SCU here: http://law.scu.edu/careers/employment-data-2011.cfm

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