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April 15, 2014

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anon

Steven

Thank you for your response. Now, perhaps, we are getting somewhere.

The scenarios for 2017-2018 you present are said to be based entirely on historic data compiled by the NALP.

Based on that data, you have said that you "know that the [new attorney supply/demand] gap will almost entirely disappear by 2017-2018.” (Actually, you claim to present "data" on the future market.)

The Executive Director of the NALP, as you forthrightly note, "estimate[s] that the overall number of people working as attorneys will be stagnant."

You state that you disagree. You say: "I ... think he's very likely wrong about the job market for law school grads."

For anyone reading this blog, it seems fair to now conclude that: 1.) you don't "know" what the market will be for new attorneys in 2017-2018, and 2.) what you have said you "know" about that market is in certain material respects refuted by the opinion of the Executive Director of the organization upon which you solely rely for your present and historic data - the executive director of a major organization who presumably has had the resources of the NALP at his disposal.

Note: At any moment, Mr. Leipold might post, and prove us all wrong about his statements/opinions! But, it seems that Steven and I have both read his remarks in the same manner.

terry malloy

In over a decade of getting kicked in the shins in the non-legal part of the financial industry, I've discovered that there are three types of people who have "data" from the future: (1) those who converse with the almighty; (2) charlatans; and (3) fools.

Which one are you Steve?

Steven Freedman (KU Law)

Just a notice that I took down one comment that was borderline threatening.

Shut it DOWN!

Just a notice, Steve: your recent graduates have the power to take voluntary defaults to spike your cohort default rate, which can / will shut down your law school overnight by removing its ability to suck anymore student loan funds now, and then for three more years. Or, are you unaware of the Code of Federal Regulations provisions that govern your school's ability to suck student loan funds? Run, tell your bond rating agencies the vigilantes have arrived.

Jojo

Steve,

If you limited your post to, "why now is a great time to go to Kansas law" I might be overall supportive. I condemn most of the vitriol in these posts, even though I think that most law schools have been deliberately indifferent to the plight of students and wouldn't care about them at all if they weren't loan conduits. This has caused harm to students. Real harm. Life altering harm.

I'd like to open the eyes of the faculty and get some change. I don't want to shut all the law schools down, but I do want to shut some of them down and to absolutely prohibit salesmanship by law schools. Law faculty, you're smart people. You know what you're doing, and you know how naive some of these 0Ls are. How can you go along with what the schools have been doing the last several years? I now it threatens your livelihood, but please consider why you got into teaching in the first place.

BoredJD

"If you limited your post to, "why now is a great time to go to Kansas law" I might be overall supportive. I condemn most of the vitriol in these posts, even though I think that most law schools have been deliberately indifferent to the plight of students and wouldn't care about them at all if they weren't loan conduits. This has caused harm to students. Real harm. Life altering harm."

Hear hear. State law schools (except in those systems, like UC, that have gotten wildly out of control with tuition hikes) are the last place where you can get a cheap law school education. It's possible to get an education at KU for around 75K assuming in-state tuition and a reasonable scholarship, which is probably the amount of debt I'd recommend to a close friend.

However, LST reports tuition has increased by an average of 7.9% over the last 5 years. That's extraordinarily troubling.

Concerned Citizen

"Steve: your recent graduates have the power to take voluntary defaults to spike your cohort default rate"

This has about a 1000:1 chance of happening.

Oh wait - strike that; reverse it.

(Any day the Great Willy Wonka can be paraphrased is a good day.)

:-)

Anon123

The classes of 2016 and 2017 will be entering a market where for the first time in history, there will be relatively large numbers of attorneys hitting 65. Do I expect them all to retire? Of course not. Do I expect a large percent, especially outside of academia, to cut to part time, yes? What will that mean? IMHO, especially outside of Biglaw, that will open up spots for women returning to the workforce, laterals, etc, which will have some impact throughout the labor market. Add this to the decreasing size of first years, and I am optimistic. I also think that law school first year classes are increasingly comprised of students receiving financial aid and those who parents can pay. It will be interesting to see what average debt looks like in 3 years.

Former Editor

Professor Freedman,

Now that your prediction here is featured at National Law Journal, do you still stand by your response to Prof. Tamanaha? In other words, does the added attention undermine the proposition that your argument will be neither seen nor heeded by enough students (directly or indirectly) to affect the outcomes you predict?

Kyle McEntee

Sure would be nice if somebody approved my post.

Kyle McEntee

Trying again:

Ben, two reasons I'm hesitant to respond. First, I've not been super engaged due to other responsibilities, and so my reply is going to be a bit shorter than I prefer (edit: apparently not, oops). Second, I'm generally tired of my posts getting caught in the spam filter, even when they are short and contain no links. The latter makes it impossible for me to actually participate in a discussion. TFL needs to join the rest of us in this decade.

I have run our uses of the BLS statistics by a former BLS economist. I trust her judgment. A separate economist at BLS had an extensive conversation with Debby Merritt on the topic (and on lawyer unemployment). I trust the judgment of both Debby and her source.

As BoredJD pointed out, one function of the BLS projections is trending direction. The BLS stats are trending down and BLS has been cutting them every two years for a few years. BLS says (essentially) "it's getting worse" based on macroeconomic models that are far more sophisticated than the back of the envelope modeling you, Steve, and I are capable of doing. It's an important piece of context when we talk about how the decline in enrollment affects the decline in graduates and the increase in percentages when the raw numbers stay steady or decline/increase slightly. Likewise, the convergence of the number of jobs measured by the ABA and number of graduates is an important piece of the context. So are costs, debts, and the shifting opportunity costs in an otherwise better economy.

So in 2004, if a law dean says, "things are trending up!" -- why would I have a problem with that if it's an accurate description and it's fairly stated and contextualized? I'm not sure why you think I would. What discomforts/annoys me is the presumption that I would object to any positive statement made by a law school dean because they happen to be a law school dean. You should know better, or at least know better than to wrongly imply that.

What I do have a problem with is you generalizing your findings about Widener post-nine months -- which you admit are rather flawed, and which others have pointed out suffer from a lack of transparency and other issues that are not relevant to the undue generalization -- to the rest of schools. And like it or not, law schools and those selling their services (faculty and admins alike) have lost the trust they once had. This is new. We're all better for schools needing more than their word to stand on.

But all the same, I predict that the lack of trust in legal education is going to have a negative effect on legal services, and band-aid solutions and celebration over marginal improvements we're seeing at schools now portend more, justified discontent. I don't feel bad about contributing to that in the least. Schools have been acting unfairly, whether intentional or not, and this is all about something much bigger than the players in our little sphere. They need to earn the trust back for the sake of our profession and a society that depends on lawyers and the law to optimally function. They need to do this by taking more ownership of the problem. Legal education's most influential leaders need to do more. Instead, we have deans like Chemerinsky peddling misleading and outright false statements in the NYT.

One final point. I want to echo some of the sentiments from the commenters here that reaching 80% employed (or whatever) is not something to celebrate. It may be the best there has ever been, but that doesn't mean it's good enough for prospective students and it doesn't mean it should be. I'd caution thinking that back when the employment rates were 70% or more, that students were voting with their feet about these rates. Transparent information on a school-by-school basis was decidedly withheld from the public to use until very recently. Additionally, one of the biggest myths has been that these issues of over-enrollment are a product of the recession. They are not. Poor placement at elite national and flagship schools is new, which spawned wider coverage than we could have otherwise mustered in trying to drive out information and drive down costs. But as the NALP numbers show going back a while, they were not as good as people would have thought based on the cultural treatment of the pursuit of a law degree. It's just that nobody paid attention and costs weren't what they were.

Ultimately, my dedication to the cause is largely one born out of the gross unfairness present in higher education and higher education funding. This is why I thought the Simkovic study completely missed the point as it pertains to a "crisis" (offensive scare quotes and all) response and why I think you and Steve both completely miss the point about why people do not think it's time to encourage people to attend law school. In fact, it's deeply embarrassing for legal academia that a sizable number reflexively cheered Simkovic because long-term value is a red herring. His conclusions could be right--though there are many reasons to be suspect of the conclusions they reach. It's just not relevant if you don't believe that law schools deserve an increasingly large cut of a graduates' earning potential each year. Part of that comes from my belief about who educational institutions should serve and who they are now serving (through obscured funding nonetheless). Part comes from the likely overestimation of a particular school's education/existence on a typical graduate's earning, i.e. incorrectly ascribing undue credit. Most underestimated is the impact of the rules (protections) lawyers and law schools play by in securing lawyer pay premiums.

Anyhow, the second somebody tries to justify price based on people as investment vehicles is the second they've lost me. It's an awful way to look at the next generation of lawyers and leaders. The debt is life altering and crushing. Why more educators are not enraged is the second saddest part of all of this. Of course, it can't top the fact that law schools prefer to let their graduates start their careers running with mud on their shoes.

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