Search the Lounge

Categories

« AALS Refund Request | Main | Not Your Everyday Nonpaternity Story »

January 08, 2014

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Steve Diamond

Eric Miller at LMU probably gets it right in explaining the problem in his "cist of apprenticeship" post here: http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2013/03/the-cost-of-apprenticeship.html

This may also explain the alliance between the anti-intellectualism of the crowd whi gather here and the reactionaries at Cato.

The problem of specious and costly efforts to internalize the apprenticeship period into a university setting was actually resisted by most academic law profs and in many places I suspect it still is.

Cent Rieker

Professor Diamond,
Do you take umbrage with the "anti-intellectualism" of law schools who are now accepting students with pathetically low LSAT scores? I'm sure you will remain silent when the ABA further perpetuates it by eliminating the LSAT as an admission requirement to keep the gravy train going. The dumbing down you posted about earlier is already under way.

anon

Diamond's argument is that the many who contend that the number of JD applications is down not because of all the wonderful opportunties available to BAs, but rather because tuition has recently and sharply increased beyond all sense of proportion while the tangible value of a JD (measured by employment outcomes) has steadily declined, are engaged in "anti-intellectualism" and like the "reactionaries at Cato."
In support, Diamond cites, becoming even more unhinged, Eric Muller, on the topic of "efforts to internalize the apprenticeship period into a university setting"!
One can only marvel at this. Once again, the leadership of the law academy is responsible for its failures to pivot and recognize reality, and Prof Diamond is a wonderful exemplar of this problem. His posts are worthy of study and reflection.
How have things gone so wrong in the legal academy? What sort of culture produces this sort of defense?

Steve Diamond

Cent, I began my career teaching in adult education before I went to law school and think it is possible to create an effective intellectual culture in a classroom with people of a wide range of abilities and backgrounds. That said, it does seem the LSAT is a good predictor of success in law school and on the bar and therefore provides both prospective students and law schools useful information.

In any case anti-intellectualism is not about "dumbing down" if you meant that somehow getting rid of the LSAT would lead to less intelligent students.

The real danger is that we lose the original purpose of placing law schools in the university setting. See Mark Graber's post at Balkinization on Jan. 1 "legal education and the university." It's about independence from the commercial pressures of the profession that allows more objective examination of important issues and gives students the time to absorb important concepts and principles before they too face those pressures.

I recognize and I think most law profs do also that this is a challenging exercise even under the best of economic conditions and even at the highest ranking schools. And the high cost of legal education exacerbates the problem.

anon

It's about independence from the commercial pressures of the profession that allows more objective examination of important issues and gives students the time to absorb important concepts and principles …" unsullied by concerns about “commercial pressures.”
Here again, Diamond exposes a "bubble" of self-reinforcing thought that includes a deeply-held bias against the practice of law and thereby implicitly demeans lawyering and lawyers.
Practice is the context in which vaguely stated "concepts and principles" are actually tested, honed and refined. Most of law school, especially the all-important first year, involves almost nothing BUT studying the work product of lawyers and courts. Law practice is the goal of the vast majority of law students. Acquiring the training that will make one an attractive hire after law school is a “commercial pressure” for almost all of those students, especially those who become deeply indebted to attend law school. Most law students wish to learn how to become lawyers in law school.
But, this is a “problem” for Diamond. These students should, instead, be absorbing the “important concepts and principles” he believes can be determined by and then imparted by the law academy! (How’s that been working out?)
Again, law schools are floundering because tuition has escalated so dramatically, while the value of a law degree (measured by employment outcomes) has been declining. In the face of this, Diamond, after explaining that this problem is attributable to better opportunities for BAs in a “booming” economy, now appears to be doubling down on the “see no evil” tack to say that law schools should continue to cater to the often naïve sensibilities of an all too often incredibly inexperienced clique of persons with no meaningful backgrounds in the practice of law and no managerial or business sense whatsoever. He vaguely assumes the presumed ability of the law academy to discern the “concepts and principles” that are more “important” than external “commercial pressures” - by which he seemingly dismisses actual lawyering.
One can only wonder what “concepts and principles” that are divorced from “commercial pressures” Diamond believes are the most “important concepts and principles” to be taught in a law school. These "concepts and principles" certainly do not, it seems, include becoming trained and then employed in a profession that requires that training. These concepts and principles certainly do not, it seems, being permitted to acquire that training from those who possess it themselves and who believe that the goals and aspirations of the vast majority of their students are worthwhile.
The plain fact is that the notion of “concepts and principles” is valid, but Diamond fails in any way to demonstrate: 1.) in what respect law schools are presently failing to identify and impart “concepts and principles” and 2.) how the “concepts and principles” that are imparted in law school are affecting the practice of law (e.g., whether faculty hiring focused on employing inexperienced persons unfamiliar with the practice of law has contributed to the widely perceived inability of law school graduates to add value to the actual practice of law, leading to a glut of new lawyers incapable of meaningful contributions without significant legal training, and thus exacerbating the “commercial pressures” on law schools to do better to which Diamond refers).
Again, Diamond's posts are valuable and worth consideration. He exemplifies a mind set that requires study and, perhaps, critique.

Steve Diamond

To borrow from Deming: In God we trust, all others must use data. Not sure where you have been, Anon, but the debate about the value of the JD is settled - with data. See Simkovic and McIntyre: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2250585

Of course reversion to the mean will take time and will be painful. The upturn was very sharp (far too sharp to be explained by law school brochures as judges across the country have recognized by throwing out the fraud lawsuits) and the downturn will be sharp. The upturn overshot demand and so the downturn will overshot the lack of demand.

Stan

Steve, speaking of data, look at your own institution. According to the data on the SCU website, 75% of the 2012 class was unable to report working in a full time legal job with any salary at all, much less a million dollars!


anon

"Not sure where you have been, Anon, but the debate about the value of the JD is settled - with data."
Steve, Steve, Steve. You ask where I've been, but you cite a study that disproves one of your main contentions. Simkovic and McIntyre, hardly a study that "settles" anything, purport to demonstrate that over the long term, a JD adds a relative earning advantage. You argue that folks are satisfied with BAs because these prove to be more valuable now than JDs, and that that circumstance will not change until there is a "shortage" of lawyers. Your argument isn't supported by the S and M study; your argument doesn't come even close to making the same point they did.
"(judges across the country have recognized (that alleged misreps about employment outcomes did not account for an "upturn" in demand for JDs) by throwing out the fraud lawsuits)."
OK, Steve, once again, let's change the subject. Your comments are such a wonderful mish mash of vague but pointed barbs!
In this comment, you now appear to wish to move to ground you seem to believe more comfortable, to refute the "lawscam" movement (once again) insofar as some in that "movement" contend that law schools misrepresented employment outcomes (a point raised by none of the comments above). You use the dismissal of some fraud suits as proof of ... exactly ... what?
The majority of the judges who dismissed these suits (all suits have not been dismissed, btw) did not find that there were no misreps; they ruled on lack of reliance. So, is your point that you agree that no one paid any attention to the statements of law schools about employment outcomes? If you agree with the courts, that must be your point.
How does that point support your views, as expressed in this thread, Steve?
Finally, when you speak of "demand" Steve, you appear to vary between demand for a JD by applicants (where this all started) and demand for law school grads.

terry malloy

Why won't reality conform to my data!!

Barry

Steve Diamond:

"Of course, just as the up ticks were overly optimistic these numbers are likely overly pessimistic. The structuralist and the cyclists (I remain with Gary Becker and Michael Simkovic in the latter camp) will have to wait and see."

I have not seen *any* 'cyclist' even try to make the case that we've seen a similar situations before. Note that I mean honestly, because that would have to include the grads:jobs ratio[1] and the salaries:tuition ratio[1].

[1] In both cases, the real ratios, which include those who don't get JD jobs, and those who are unemployed.

Paula Marie Young


The recap:

Date of Administration /Number of Takers

Dec. 2013/28,363
Dec. 2012/30,226
Dec. 2011/35,825
Dec. 2010/42,096
Dec. 2009/50,444 (highest since 1987 when LSAC began keeping these records)
Dec. 2008/43,646

You have to go back to 1997 to see this low level of Dec. LSAT takers (then, 29,879 takers). It has never been lower since LSAC began keeping (or at least publishing) data on LSAT takers in 1987.

Paula Marie Young

Here is the most recent effort to analyze the job equilibrium situation.
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/cypress/nationaljurist0114/#/8

MacK

You know, I'd have so many things to say about Steve Diamond's current inanities - but then maybe he would start taking cheap shots against the dead.

Of course it is cherry picked nonsense. Steve's current line could be described as blubbering "but Simkovic and McIntyre [proved that you can selectively cherry pick numbers to show anything] that going to law school has been a roaring success for every student." Hence, I, Steve Diamond and an always right, totally respected member of the legal profession and a great law professor too!!

A huge number of people have explored what is wrong with Simkovic & McIntyre, and despite what Steve might want to say, the holes are pretty devastating. First, like every quasi-economic model the S&M study failed to pass the basic reality test. As someone who has actually employed professional economists, I can in fact say that all subject their models to a test against observed reality and if it fails, the model is wrong. Second, the S&M study suffered from transparent confirmation bias. Third, it really did not take much looking to see the flaw in S&M - it compared earnings law students who earned JDs against all BA degree earners, despite the harsh reality that going to law school in the relevant period (well before 2008) meant: (a) that the student, back when law schools like Santa Clara were being selective (about students and professors) meant that the student was high ranked in their college class; and (b) was still someone without a well-pains alternative to law school. In short the numbers were very dubious from the "get-go" though Leiter and his toady thought they were great.

It is not possible to predict how long JD output will take to align with demand, but it is heading in the right direction.

TWBB

"but the debate about the value of the JD is settled - with data"

A statement like that is why academics in other departments frequently have such a low opinion of legal academics. That is not science, social science, or even legal studies. No reputable researcher would ever find that a single paper (particularly one, in this case, that excludes inconvenient data) ever "settled" anything.

anon

WHile he may feel himself to be abused on this site by a horde of idiots when he jumps into the discussion, a fair reading of Prof Diamond's comments, and those in response, does not show him in a favorable light.
What is sort of troubling about Prof Diamond's approach and comments is that his view is hardly unique. He claims to speak for "most law profs" (using phrases like "I recognize and I think most law profs do also"), and sadly, he may be right in many instances.
In other words, it is time to be more specific about the failure of the legal academy to pivot - to act nimbly and meet the demands of the day, wait, to meet teh demands of a law school IN ANY DAY. When the voice of a failed outcome is speaking to us, that voice is teaching what went (and is going) so wrong.
The steep decline in demand for JDs is not wholly attributable to the economy or to any one factor. What is "settled" is that legal education is becoming further and further removed from teh reality of the law as it is practiced and needed (clinics notwithstanding), and thus more and more useless and irrelevant.
It is time to be more specific to determine more precisely where the burden of responsiblity for this state of affairs should be placed, and, unfortunately, it must be determined upon whom the weight of that responsiblity falls.
Of course, those who feel they have been in control of the enterprise will say "not us"! See, Enron. Smartest guys in teh room, all.

Steve Diamond

Like the ideologues of a totalitarian society or the proponents of the theory of "man made" global warming, the defenders of the "law school is a scam" viewpoint must at all costs bury the data that demonstrates the fragility of their world view.

Anyone who has a genuine interest in assessing the Simkovic and McIntyre study should read it themselves. It is available here:
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2250585

Michael Simkovic took the time to untangle the confusion the scammers fell into in a series of posts at Brian Leiter's site. Those are compiled here: http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/guest-blogger-michael-simkovic/

With respect to the urban myth that the study does not examine the impact of the credit crisis, note that as the authors explain the data set runs from 1996-2011.

Steve Diamond

Like the ideologues of a totalitarian society, the defenders of the "law school is a scam" viewpoint must at all costs bury the data that demonstrates the fragility of their world view.

Anyone who has a genuine interest in assessing the Simkovic and McIntyre study should read it themselves. It is available here: 
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2250585

Michael Simkovic took the time to untangle the confusion the scammers fell into in a series of posts at Brian Leiter's site. Those are compiled here: http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/guest-blogger-michael-simkovic/

With respect to the urban myth that the study does not examine the impact of the credit crisis, note that as the authors explain the data set runs from 1996-2011.

anon

Steve:

You are exactly right in that capitalism creates both wealth and poverty simultaneously. Capitalism relies on captured value of labor that gets even more artificially under-priced as poverty spreads.

A good example of this is the current legal market. Multi-millionaire partners and clients now demand the desperate throng of unemployed graduates work for less and less...because there's always a more desperate graduate willing to step in and desperately take each doc reviewer's or associate's place. Partners profit, and law professors profit on the captured value from the false illusion that law still offers potential students a decent chance to escape poverty. But really, the field of law creates more poverty. More than have of the suckers lured into this profession have absolutely hopeless career prospects given their debt, and this system is driving more and more talented people into poverty that only the government can bail them out of. Law professors have one of the easiest jobs in the country and get paid more than most could ever dream of. Until they either accept a 50% pay cut or agree to double their workload teaching classes, the poverty creation will continue.

I don't think that professors are bad people, because they're unwittingly part of a previously semi-broken system that has now gone completely sideways. But the sooner they realize and agree to either teach more classes or cut their salaries, law school will never get more efficient from a price standpoint. That's just the simple math. As it stands, law school creates a ridiculous amount of poverty, depression, and suicidal tendencies.

BoredJD

Steve, the limitations of the Simkovic-McIntyre study have been well documented, and no, the data set does not really "run to" 2011, because it excludes people who graduated after 2008. Before accusing people of being "like the ideologues of a totalitarian society or the proponents of the theory of "man made" global warming" you may want to acknowledge the very valid criticisms of that study, as well as the point above that no serious academic would conclude based on a single paper that another position has been utterly refuted.

And I am still waiting on that data about the job market for BAs.

Cent Rieker

Paraphrasing Michael Corleone in Part II: you know it occurred to me that law professors get paid to defend law schools they'd never enroll in. The critics don't (get paid).

Hyman Roth: What does that tell you?

Michael: They could win.

Face it- the music's stopping for much of the higher education bubble, especially for schools (of all sort- not just law schools) that are neither elite nor public flagships (which unfortunately also have become much more expensive than they should be).

The comments to this entry are closed.

StatCounter

  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad