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January 02, 2015

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Anon

The meme here seems to be the idea that for profit law schools contribute to a glut of lawyers and that they lure people into law school with the promise they will practice law when they know that is not trued

But national data suggest the growth rate over the last two decades in licensed lawyers is pretty much in line with the growth rate in employed lawyers (actually I think the former has grown slower than the latter).

And getting a license has never meant that one will or wants to practice law. Again looking back over the last couple decades, less than half of all licensed lawyers are employed as lawyers. Hard to imagine that Charlotte is responsible for that data and hard to see how law school applicants can blame law schools for pulling the wool over their eyes for decades.

Of course in any particular region actual mileage may vary so national data may not rescue Charlotte, nonetheless, are we trying to knock down a straw man?

anon

"But national data suggest the growth rate over the last two decades in licensed lawyers is pretty much in line with the growth rate in employed lawyers (actually I think the former has grown slower than the latter)."

Isn't that a "duh" sort of observation, Anon? After all, employed lawyers need a license, no? What's the point of this observation?

"looking back over the last couple decades, less than half of all licensed lawyers are employed as lawyers"

Here is another sort of irrelevant observation, no? What is your point? That one half of newly minted graduates of law school intend to pass the bar and obtain a license, but don't intend to practice law? What's your support for that sort of obviously wrong conclusion?

If your point depends at all upon the notion that graduates of law school expect, generally, to pass the bar and get a license - and, although hard to discern it seems that getting a license is at least one of the suppositions supporting whatever point you are attempting to make - then your comment, whatever your point, misses the point of this thread entirely.

Anon

Law schools are in the business of producing licensed lawyers. If law schools aren't producing licensed lawyers at a rate higher than lawyers finding work as lawyers then law schools aren't creating an oversupply problem.

(And from what I can tell from a quick look at the data, over the last two decades the number of licensed lawyers increased about 33% while the number of employed lawyers increased 39%. In other words it has become easier to get a job as a lawyer over that time period.)

As to the point that only half of licensed lawyers work as lawyers I can't obviously conclude that law school applicants don't intend to practice law but it seems hard to sustain a meme that law schools are fooling them about the odds of practicing law in the face of decades of data indicating that the JD leads to all sorts of non-practice careers. (And as the data on JD incomes shows these are quite lucrative relative to going through life with just a BA.)

No, breh

"as the data on JD incomes shows these are quite lucrative relative to going through life with just a BA"

o rly?

care to share this data?

Anon

no, breh: I guess you be a newbie here, eh? well here you go anyway:

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.1086/677921?uid=3739560&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21105556479493

anon

No, breh

Anon is likely relying on the infamous S&M paper. 'Nuff said about that. Reading that paper with all the caveats, assumptions and nuances yields the inescapable conclusion that it did not even approach a meritorious and rigorous examination worthy of the hype some afforded it.

As for the blurry nature of Anon's "points," Anon seems to be saying:

1. There are more practicing attorneys than licensed attorneys (over the last two decades the number of licensed lawyers increased about 33% while the number of employed lawyers increased 39%),

2. Law schools are therefore "not creating an oversupply problem" and

3. Only half of licensed attorneys are lawyers.

Points one and three are contradictory (if "employed lawyer" = employed as a lawyer); in any event, these "points" are approaching the appearance of intentional misstatements intended to derail the subject of this thread. Accordingly, I'll leave it to others to decipher Anon's good faith. The "points" Anon is attempting to make are at best irrelevant, and at worst, deliberately wrong.

Anon

No I did not say there were more practicing attorneys than licensed attorneys - the opposite is true, in fact. And it has been true for at least the last two decades.

And that is the point.

twbb

Anon, you are missing the fact that many lawyers give up their license when they are unable to find a job that requires it. But if the quantitative data doesn't convince you of the severe JD oversupply issue, and the hordes of JDs publicly speaking about how law school was the worst choice of their life, and the exploding debt levels, and the continuing drop in reported lawyer satisfaction don't convince you that something is wrong, then nothing will.

Anon

Twbb - data or speculation? Hard to believe that number would outweigh the correlation between licensed lawyers and working lawyers over many years.

twbb

The numbers, Anon, are really, really bad, especially at schools like Charlotte. The only way you can spin it as a positive is if you make unwarranted assumptions about what you think graduates are doing. The actual recorded employment rates tell a very dismal story.

John Thompson

@Anon/9:37 p.m.:

If it has actually gotten easier in recent years to find work as a practicing attorney, why have so few law schools over the last six years managed to place than 60% of their graduates in full-time/bar-required jobs within 9 months of graduation and 4 months of bar results being published in most states?

Just saying...

Interesting that the Dean discounts quantitative measures. I know that Infilaw is big into Six Sigma, or at least was. Some of the deans at other Infilaw schools were applying it to their operations. I would assume that was a corporate mandate.

AProf

Jay, Are you not going to respond to the challenge to disclose Charlotte's data for low-LSAT students? Nice tap-dancing, but we need data.

Anon

twbb - when you say the "actual recorded employment data tell a dismal story" what data are you referring to? my understanding is that except for one down year in 2008, there have been more people working as lawyers every year for more than the last decade at least and earning more income every year even in 2008.

twbb

Anon, the absolute numbers is not very relevant and I am puzzled as to why you would even appeal to that. The RATE is what is important, and 36% of your law graduates not finding work for which bar membership is required is a terrible number. Considering this does not include low-paying, no-advancement jobs like document review, or people who start solo practices out of desperation, that number is horrifying. Have you asked yourself why you are trying to measure law school employment outcomes by metrics that nobody else uses? Do you think maybe that this is a sign that you are doing something wrong?

Anon

2:55pm - it may be true (may!) that more people are working as lawyers each year. But the number that matters is the number of graduates vs the number of jobs filled each year. So sure, great if 10k more lawyers are out there now than 5 years ago, but if there have been 200k graduates there's a problem. (I know these are not exact numbers).

Earning more income? Well sure once you factor out all the grads who never became lawyers that statement may be true. But I think inflation alone would make that statement true in many professions.

No, breh

re: the Anon comment w/r/t S&M paper after my comment above, I've actually posted on the problem with that paper before, either here or elsewhere, which I'll summarize as: bad theory, bad assumptions, insufficient and/or improper controls, correlation/causation fail, comparing apples & oranges, and past performance does not guarantee future results.

In short: A JD does not magically lead to improved non-legal career opportunities, and I've not once seen a good, logical explanation of why it should or would.

No, breh

re: the Charlotte jobs data, good lord that is painful:

http://www.lstscorereports.com/schools/charlotte/jobs/employers/2013/

Around 13% school-funded too....jeez....

twbb

That's pretty depressing. And of course, "business" probably does not mean investment banker or consulting job.

Anon

twbb: not sure where you got the 36% figure but here is what my quick and dirty review of the data I could find show:

1) over the last 20 years or so (and probably going back for longer than that) the number of people working as lawyers is just under 50% of the number licensed as lawyers.

In other words it has been true for many years that only half of all JDs practice law.

Even if one does not accept the conclusions about the value of a JD demonstrated by Simkovic and McIntyre (whose research has been vetted by many scholars no doubt more qualified than "no,breh"), it seems a big stretch to argue that law schools have been fooling people for decades about where JDs end up working.

And certainly since this is a longstanding correlation it makes no sense to conclude that law schools started doing something differently that caused a temporary mismatch in supply and demand - it is my understanding that the critics base their "fraud" claims on law school statements about employment that reach back many years.

2) The data also show that in shorter time frames temporary mismatches in the production of licensed lawyers and people employed as lawyers show up. But they go in both directions. So, for example, from 1998-2002 the number of licensed lawyers increased by 6% but the number of people working as lawyers increased by 17.7%. From 2003-2007 the number of licensed lawyers increased by 8% and the number of people working as lawyers increased by 7.6%. Finally, from 2008-2012 the number of people working as lawyers increased by 5% while the number of licensed lawyers increased by 7%. In other words, when the mismatch was greatest it was because of an underproduction of licensed lawyers.

Of course, none of this makes any difference for a particular individual caught in the downdraft after 2008 but it does undermine the claim that law schools have been over-producing licensed lawyers.

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