Search the Lounge


« Risk Regulation Slides Are Posted | Main | Paul Kirgis Named Dean Of Montana Law »

December 04, 2014


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


50,000 apps sounds about right. Should mean circa 33,000 matrics and 100,000 total law students. That's still way more than the market can absorb, but getting close to stable until law school loan funding reform passes in two years.


What do you mean “two years”? Do you have some reason to believe that that there will be no meaningful reform of lending in the near future?
I was led to believe that “Hope and Change” would enhance opportunities for millennials. I voted for such theoretical opportunities. Where did I go wrong?


anon: "Where did I go wrong?"

Not voting in the mid-terms.


Rumor is that December LSAT registrations down 1.5 percent


There are three real problems here: (1) lack of good paying jobs for young lawyers; (2) an academy that has been unwilling or unable to acknowledge the crisis in any meaningful way; and (3) the decline of the prestige of the legal sector.

First, it makes almost zero economic sense to enter this field now. The money's not where it once was for the median lawyer, partnership has never been tougher to make at biglaw, and the amount of debt required to enter eats up any incentive to jump in. Law can still be a wonderful public service field, but so too can being a monk, attending to lepers, or community organizing. Public service is not a selling point at your cost point.

Second, with a few notable exceptions, the response from the faculty has been either denial of a problem, denial of the structural nature of the problem, apathy, retrenchment, or impotence. The problems with legal education are not going away, and charging more for a troubled product is not a good business model.

Third, the prestige bloom is off the rose. The law brand is dying by a thousand cuts. Even parents are starting to get the message. It is now objectively, undeniably true that anyone can go to law school. Open admissions policies at the weakest ABA accredited schools hurt all other schools. Few of the students that you want to attend your institutions find it comforting that the bozos who slept through undergrad and were marginally literate can end up in the exact same boat 3 years from now, competing for the same job or the same clients.


The big question here whether the trend of applying later in the cycle increases again. I thought it would be impossible last year, but the schools found a way to generate a lot of applications in March-June. I wonder if all of the promotional work required a significant capital expenditure.

Anyway, this is good news. Applications will be down again this year.


Straight up, JoJo, especially on #2. Stakeholders mocked the voices crying out in the wilderness for years as know-nothing malcontents. The idea that people were trying to honestly say "things need to change in legal education," such that the damage might be mitigated for all concerned, was dismissed out of hand by those who apparantly preferred to whistle past graveyards rather than make difficult decisions. There were few easy answers, but praying to the stone idols of the past as a path to the future was clearly not one of them.

And why newcomer schools still tried to get in on the gravy-train, in the face of all the not-so-recent evidence, is astounding.

Anon prof

Unfortunately, Jojo is correct about #2. Law facilities have been disturbingly complacent. Even ones outside the T14, who should know better. Thomas Jefferson's building is just the most glaring of the errors of out of touch administrators and faculty. The dean who built that tribute to his ego is gone and he's left others to pick up the pieces. Probably most of the people who are most responsible will be retired, if they are not already, before they have to pay the price.

Law faculty and staff are in for some very difficult times, which will include pay cuts (this has already happened at a lot of schools through reduction or elimination of summer grants and travel budgets) and increases in teaching loads. Most of the commentators here will cheer this and maybe they should. More cutbacks, including layoffs, are on the way. The biggest change in the near term is that there will be precious few faculty hires.

The events for which the law school crisis will be most remembered have no happened yet.


What the law academy needs to do is this:

1. Hire more Ph.D.s in fields that have nothing to do with law, and who have no experience or interest in practice;

2. Offer far more courses in meditation and "mindfulness" and decrease the number of subjects that have anything to do with law or practicing law or improving the legal system;

3. Allow anyone to attend who cares to attend, and raise tuition to take advantage of limitless federal loans;

4. Push to eliminate or water down the LSAT and the Bar Exams;

5. Publish more junk economic reports claiming that all it well;

6. Brutally attack anyone who complains about anything above.

Problem solved!


The balance of power between applicants and law schools this admission season is going to be hilarious. Qualified applicants are going to be treated like foreign dignitaries. I hope they squeeze every last scholarship dollar out of the institution they choose to attend. Having just recently put a winning bid on a home, I would favor the "multiple offer" method. Get your acceptance letters from at least 15 schools, narrow the schools to about 10, then ask them all to put in their best offer without sharing any information about each other's offers. Accept the best offer, then continue to relentlessly pressure them for more scholarhip money until 2 days before enrollment.


"The balance of power between applicants and law schools this admission season is going to be hilarious."

There's a marketing opportunity here - set up the law school equivalent of

Have the student post his GPA and LSAT score on the website, and give law schools the opportunity to bid against each other to have that student attend that school by offering tuition discounts, with the student selecting the winning bidder.



Wouldn't that be the student offers a certain amount, and then waits to see which school accepts (with specs, such as First Tier, Second Tier, Indistinguishably Lousy so Ranked by Alphabetical Order ...)?


Jojo hit upon something - we've seen a number of schools drop their LSAT percentiles like crazy (e.g., the 75th in 2014 less than the 25th in 2010). If they haven't already, a number of schools will have a reputation of flat-zero in a few years. Given that the market is glutted, nobody from those schools will be hired.

This might be good for lawyers who graduated a few years back.

Cent Rieker

It won't be a good thing for lawyers who graduated a few years back. Employers won't look back and see that there was a higher level of matriculating student in the mid aughts to the ones gaining admission on an open-admission standard at the majority of schools. Instead the schools' graduates of all levels will have a greater stigma and devaluation thanks to the schools' greed/desperation.

Besides, the reduced need for new associates has allowed employers to stick with graduates from higher ranked schools. Even for firms that can't attract the best of the best, like the Cravaths and Gibson Dunns, etc., the next tier of firms will just opt for lower ranked associates from the T-14 than the top of the watered down middle and lower ranked schools.


I think it will take years, if not decades, for the overhang from the recent years to clear out. Other than T14 people, I think it will be brutal. Unless they had relevant work experience and passed the bar, I still see employers as picking up recent grads.


I'm a law student and I really appreciate my professors. But I do wish more of them had experience outside of academia so they could mentor us through the job process and our careers. I came to law school to learn the law and to think like a lawyer (still trying to figure out what that means!), but at the end of the day, I came to law school to start a career in the law.


Marie, Many professors at lower ranked schools do have more experience. In fact, at my tier-4 law school, the average full-time professor has about 6 years of practice (compared to about 2 years for tier-1 schools). Many of our faculty were partners or high level government attorneys with over 10 years of practice. Some still are "of counsel" at major law firms. But I guess you don't want to go to a tier-4 school and as long as students continue to choose the tier-1 schools with professors with minimal experience, most schools will continue to try to model the tier-1 experience. For example, even at my school, our two most recent hires, had only 2 years experience each, but also had at least one ivy league degree, law review, clerkships.


AnonProf, at the risk of speaking for Marie, I think what she wants is to go to an elite school that also has professors with more practical experience. Having professors with lots of experience accomplishes nothing if you are at a bottom-tier law school whose graduates' resumes are looked at as if they have something foul spilled on them.


Fair enough, but the elite schools are not going to change unless students show willingness to attend other schools with professors with more practice experience. I do not know which "elite" school has the professors with the most work experience, but high-end students should seek out that school and attend, even if they get into another school a few spots higher. I know Baylor seeks out professors with work experience, but I doubt they count as "elite." If you aren't willing to vote with your feet, don't expect schools to change.


AnonProf, these lower-ranked schools have essentially open admissions and employers know it by this point. It just generally doesn't make economic sense to go to a lower-ranked school that will teach you good practical skills over a significantly higher-ranked school that won't.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad