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January 28, 2015

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Annon

Anon, academic hiring patterns are notoriously slow to change, so your observations are not particularly surprising.

Ted

I am very concerned that the value of a law degree is not being recognized by the younger generation. When,a s a business owner,I have the same problems I recognized that I must go and market my business. Unfortunately,I'm not seeing the professors art or local law school do the same. I'm not suggesting handing out flyers set the mall,but art least travel to colleges and introduce the law school to the new generation, reach out to potential second careers candidates. Professors can just sit back and not do something.

terry malloy

@ Ted.

If law schools drop the price, you'll see a lot more interest.

Anon

Faculty may not have time for that. In addition, prospective students may ask about career outcomes or the practice of law, which many faculty know very little about. Accordingly, the marketing exercise you propose could completely backfire and have the opposite of the intended effect. A superior marketing approach would be for law schools to somehow find a way to counteract the negative press they now receive.

Jojo

Law schools whine about "the media" and lament concerns about practical things like employment and tuition. They long for a return to the old days.

What's lost in all of this is what is meant by the 'old days' and what normal enrollment looks like. From the late 1970s to the late 1990s, matriculation at law schools was roughly constant. In 1978 approximately 40,500 students began law school as 1Ls. In 1998, 42,800 students began law school. Yes, that's right. In 20 years' time -- a generation -- only 2,300 more students despite massive population increases, regulatory increases, etc. (Please note that I'm not cherry picking here. There were actually more law students beginning in the law schools in 1981 than there were in 1997). In short, for an entire generation, law school enrollment was basically flat, (following that sizeable bump up in the late 1960s).

Then came the early 2000s. By 2008, the number increased to 49,400 and then onto the all time peak of 52,500 in 2010.

There was no lawyer shortage in the 1980s, and jobs for lawyers haven't been easy to come by since the early-1970s. The numbers reflect overproduction from the late 1990s on DESPITE ABSOLUTELY ZERO MARKET NEED FOR MORE LAWYERS DURING THAT TIME PERIOD.

Returning to normal does not mean returning to enrollments in the high 40,000s. It means returning to enrollments in the high 30,000s to low 40,000s, and with the recent overhang, it probably means enrollments in the low 30,000s for a few years. The problem, of course, is that in 1975 there were 163 law schools; in 2015 there are 204 law schools.

There simply is no need for more lawyers. That's not to say that law school isn't valuable, and that businessmen can't benefit from a better understanding of the UCC or that First Amendment law isn't interesting to people other than lawyers. All of that may be true. But, so what? How can you not expect a massive decade long overproduction not to hurt the labor market for your students? And if it does hurt the market for their labor, how can you not expect them to complain about it and to discourage others from entering a saturated market?

JM

@ Ted

"I am very concerned that the value of a law degree is not being recognized by the younger generation."

Actually, the younger generation is finally recognizing the value of a law degree, which is why enrollment is declining. The problem is that the value is really low. Your average outcome at your average law school (e.g. Brooklyn, Santa Clara, American) would be about $200,000 in total student loan debt and a school-funded job that ends in less than a year and pays about minimum wage. How is anyone supposed to market that?

anon

Jojo

If your thesis is correct, then one wonders about the reason so may new law schools opened.

Did the unlimited nature of student loans, earning interest that exceeds the market rate on mortgages, fuel the growth in the number of law student (and thus law schools)?

Was this then simply another bubble created by misguided government policy and the unlimited avarice of greedy operators and self interested beneficiaries (i.e., the law faculties and administrators)?

Is so, isn't a wonder that now, even with such support, law schools at the lower end can't even give it away?

The public goes underserved. Law faculties pat themselves on the back, decide to hire persons in droves to study any subject other than law, and steep themselves in delusions of grandeur ("I'm a rock star on Twitter!"), while doing virtually nothing to turn it all around.

Isn't this a strange milieu?

[M][a][c][K]

Jojo: "The problem, of course, is that in 1975 there were 163 law schools; in 2015 there are 204 law schools."

Well yes, but - many of the 163 law schools that existed in 1975 are also now substantially larger, with more students and more faculty, larger debt and bigger facilities. Simply subtracting 41 law schools, or around 20% is not a solution to the excess numbers of graduates. The rest would, for the most part, have to shrink dramatically.

Justin

I don't think we are going to see the bottom until the county enters another recession. As long as the economy and job market are improving, I think law schools are going to suffer.

anon

Justin:

A canard, used frequently by defenders of the law school status quo, is rebutted by the evidence. See, comment above:

"What's lost in all of this is what is meant by the 'old days' and what normal enrollment looks like. From the late 1970s to the late 1990s, matriculation at law schools was roughly constant. In 1978 approximately 40,500 students began law school as 1Ls. In 1998, 42,800 students began law school. Yes, that's right. In 20 years' time -- a generation -- only 2,300 more students despite massive population increases, regulatory increases, etc. (Please note that I'm not cherry picking here. There were actually more law students beginning in the law schools in 1981 than there were in 1997). In short, for an entire generation, law school enrollment was basically flat, (following that sizeable bump up in the late 1960s).

Then came the early 2000s. By 2008, the number increased to 49,400 and then onto the all time peak of 52,500 in 2010."

What happens to the well worn canard that the crash in law school enrollment is simply because employment for college grads is improving so smartly when the actual facts are known?

Moreover, we haven't even started examining whether the "booming economy for college grads" canard (a description used during one of the recent iterations of this excuse) is just that: a false premise.

Ted

Marketing. Professors should be doing more marketing.

anon

Ted

Your suggestion presupposes that law professors who are interested in almost anything but legal practice would have anything meaningful to say to prospective law students. I noticed in another thread an effort by a third party to actually bring information to prospective students about the realities of the practice of law.

But, unfortunately, these days, fewer and fewer new hires in the law school ranks know enough to speak to the goal of the vast majority of law students, other than to relate having done a couple of years of scut work in BigLaw, i.e., nothing of importance or much interest to anyone but the most "elite." By and large, legal academia is far too preoccupied with themselves to effectively market a law school education.

Can you imagine an insulated law prof, brought out into the light, standing up in front of prospective students (not students already beholden to course and to the school), trotting out the Simkovic paper and claiming that a JD will be worth a million dollars in additional earning power?

Some "clinical professors" might have more relevant sales points, but these "professors" (always titled and labeled in some way to signal and distinguish and diminish them) are usually too marginalized and subjugated by the bullies and status hungry members of the "regular" faculty. In any event, the tail can't wag the law school dog.

Prospective law students wish to be trained to join the legal system. Until and unless legal academia wakes up, the slide will continue. Marketing efforts by this group, in this climate, would likely seriously backfire.

anon

Business schools suffered four years of significant decline starting in 2008 but I don't think universities engaged in widespread closures of those programs. Why would universities behave any differently towards law schools?

Anon123

Anon at 5:26, can you provide any link to significant decline in business school enrollment. If you scroll down this page http://aacsbblogs.typepad.com/dataandresearch/mba-programs/ it seems to say MBA enrollment link is increasing (although majors within Bschool are changing). The number of business degrees is ever increasing too (and with a two year program, one would expect to see a decline in the number of MBAs by 2012, if this decline existed) http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_318.20.asp

twbb

Business schools might very well shutter MBA programs, but business schools also have the advantage that they also teach undergrads, MBA employment prospects are more connected to the economy than JDs, business schools tend to use adjuncts more and pay full-time professors consistent with their value rather than the fictional values law professors salaries have reached.

anon

The business school reference just underscores the inanity of those who argue that business cycles determine graduate school enrollment. Those who make this risible contention argue out of both sides of their mouths, so to speak.

It seems that the entire basis for the ridiculous argument that bad economy = law school enrollment increases; good economy = law school enrollment decreases is the visual observation of a "green line" on some chart. JDs, with no training or experience pretending to be labor economists are perhaps the sorriest examples of the folly of the law school model in vogue today.

anon

Anon123: have you heard of "the Google"?

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10000872396390444433504577651962999932518

http://blogs.wsj.com/atwork/2013/09/24/m-b-a-applications-rebound/

twbb: your ignorance of the faculty structures at b-schools relative to law schools is blatant. please do some research before spouting off here. you waste everyone's time.

Anon123

Anon at 3:40. The links you cite are all over the place. The second one says applications are up in 2013. The first one has some schools way up. Maybe there is not one source like there is for law school, but I do not think it is the same.

anon

anon | February 01, 2015 at 03:40 PM

Please explain how the economy affects grad school admissions.

Are you arguing that law school applications are down now because the economy is improving? Or, are you arguing that Simkovic has proved that bs degree is worth TWO MILLION (as compared with the JD, which is only worth a million premium), thus undergrads are choosing bs rationally based on the evidence?

Or, perhaps it is your view that bs applications suffered a four year decline starting in 2008 because the economy was then improving, but have started back up since 2012 because there are fewer opportunities now for undergrads, as the economy is now declining?

Or, perhaps reference to bs closures, or the absence of such closures, has nothing to do with law school enrollment?

Please label me "ignorant" because I am looking forward to your response. It is always a pleasure to read your comments, because one suspects you decry the "cesspool" that is the internet.

twbb

"twbb: your ignorance of the faculty structures at b-schools relative to law schools is blatant. please do some research before spouting off here. you waste everyone's time"

Hilarious; you don't actually point to any errors but instead engage in handwaving generalities. You're a law professor (or someone who really wants to be), right? I know you're scared about your future, but maybe a little fear is good, it will teach you humility.

The information is publicly available. Law school professors make more than business school professors. The AACSB allows 25% of faculty to be adjuncts. ABA Accreditation Standard 402 institutes strict rules minimizing the use of adjuncts.

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