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June 09, 2015


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tony smith

People are tossing around "affirmative action hires on the Supreme Court" as if the description is unproblematic and that we should all know who these two folks are. Well, I do not. Who are these people, and why are they linked to a question of quality in judging?



It is endlessly necessary to keep stating that S&M did NOT find a million dollar lifetime earning premium associated with a law degree. Repeat: DID NOT! Please read the paper.

And, although I don't necessarily disagree with your points, your comment really misses the point entirely. There isn't an "argument" to go to law school based on money and prestige. This is the doom of the legal academy (and has contributed to the debacle that is Wall Street: an amoral enterprise running on avarice and doling out unmerited and unconscionable financial rewards).

If legal academia (and, from what I've read you are not a part of it) only understood this, we could get back on track. If the legal academia, in the face of revelations of its misleading pitches, believes its response should be to just tinker with the pitch, mask the misleading information in slightly different packages, etc. (i.e., emulate Wall Street shenanigans and hucksters in a more acceptable manner), then nothing has changed and nothing will change.

In a thread about declining enrollments, all folks seem to care about is money and prestige and selfish rewards. Of course, this is so obviously what law academicians have come to (these values, and add the values of vanity, emotional insecurity and the concomitant mindless pursuit of attention).

There you go.

Steven Freedman

I'm worried we've really lost the track here from Al Brophy's original post, so I'm going to just make two brief comments.

First, @ Bored JD. Your scenario of a student going into the work world before attaining a graduate degree is completely reasonable. About half our students have work experience, which we think is great. If you read my original comment, you'll see that I didn't say taking employment after graduation was a bad idea, I just said they might find that having a grad degree can be useful in career building. Of course, they might find success without one, which is great too.

Second, @ Derek. I can think of a number of good reasons for employers to require or show preference for someone with a grad degree. The simplest one for our office is that we advise people on attending grad school. It made sense to us to require or prefer someone who has attended grad school (preferably law school) if they are going to advise on that matter.


Per MK's comment June 10, 11:45 -

"Take the typical STEM graduate. There an advanced degree, an MSc or PhD is often required to rise to management of a lab - but not a JD...yesterday were were having an interesting discussion at an office lunch about the fact that music schools have business-of-music course, acting schools business-of-theater and art schools business-of-art but the typical law school has no business-of-law course whatsoever. Don't kid yourself, businesses are not queuing up to see aspiring managers march off to law school."

As a data point of one in a sea of many, I can confirm that MK's STEM analysis is correct. I'm a former "E" with a BS and Masters in "E" from the 90s, whose 2005 JD has not exactly blown the doors off my so-called "JD-Advantage" career. I can say that there are certainly other avenues worth exploring that don't make question marks pop over people's heads, along with avoiding all the life-altering debt. Which I will be paying for until I retire (ha).

Derek Tokaz


I doubt many people will find that to be a convincing argument.

Consider the following comparison: Freven Steedman claims students really ought to consider buying clothes from Banana Republic, and that without a Banana Republic wardrobe they'll have a hard time advancing in their careers because many employers really value Banana Republic clothes.

When asked to give an example, Freven Steedman points to himself and says he routinely requires new hires to own and wear Banana Republic clothes. When pressed as to why this is, Steedman tells us that he is a Banana Republic store manager, and his employees are Banana Republic sales clerks. Of course it makes perfect sense to require people working at a clothing store to wear the clothes of that store. Can't really argue with that logic, but at the same time, it's not going to convince very many customers that they ought to buy from Banana Republic, at least not customers who are hoping to interview at jobs that aren't at Banana Republic.

But that doesn't really matter so much. You said you can think of a number of good reasons, and presumably you have actually thought of them, so please share those other reasons which aren't quite so esoteric to the business of selling graduate degrees.


Derek Tokaz: "I'd really hate to be in a law school marketing department, because I really don't know what sales pitch is going to have broad appeal with today's undergraduate students."

That's because you have ethics. Frankly, it's not *that* hard:

1) Lots of glossy brochures in undergrad career offices, and a really slick website.

2) Lots of lofty rhetoric, promising everything - that you'll be a wealthy, respected/feared/loved legal powerhouse in international sports environmental space law.

3) BS with statistics, which isn't hard - you're aiming precisely at those who can't or won't question them.

4) Suck up every external source of stats or rhetoric, and echo it back on them.

5) Borrow money before the Crash, and build a really cool new building.

6) Keep track of those who do very well. Get donations, name things after them. Have them make speeches and write articles.

7) Sign up your customers for federal loans - once those checks clear the bank, it doesn't matter how horribly the ex-customers do.


Derek Tokaz: "But that doesn't really matter so much. You said you can think of a number of good reasons, and presumably you have actually thought of them, so please share those other reasons which aren't quite so esoteric to the business of selling graduate degrees."

I give great latitude towards bar stool BS (since I do a lot of it). However, when trained debaters give very bad deliberate arguments, I take that as a sign that they don't have good arguments.


Steve Freedman: "I don't think it's controversial to say that in many fields a graduate degree is either required or highly preferred in many hiring decisions, particularly once workers seek to move beyond entry level positions. "

Which has very, very little to do with getting a JD.

Do you actually have any good arguments?


"Your scenario of a student going into the work world before attaining a graduate degree is completely reasonable. About half our students have work experience, which we think is great. If you read my original comment, you'll see that I didn't say taking employment after graduation was a bad idea, I just said they might find that having a grad degree can be useful in career building. Of course, they might find success without one, which is great too."

Seems like a relatively simple point. It also makes sense that some of the 160+ scorers in your original post who are foregoing law school at this time (probably a few thousand applicants) will eventually seek a JD, either (1) because they don't like their career or want a career change, (2) started their career in a job where the JD is an efficient and effective means of career advancement, (3) even if the JD is not the most effective/efficient graduate degree for advancement in their particular career, they want to get the degree for personal/intellectual reasons.

And it also seems obvious that many of the few thousand students either won't seek additional degrees or will seek industry-specific degrees, and the law schools have now lost them as sources of potential tuition revenue or future donations.

Steven Freedman

@ Barry & Derek

Derek asked me why we required a graduate degree when we hired some folks. I answered that question directly. Derek says my answer is weak because that only answers the question he asked, not the question(s) he didn't ask (presumably, why any employer would require or prefer a graduate degree, or maybe name all the reasons you required a graduate degree). In a similar vein of moving goalposts debate style, Barry says that answer is weak because I didn't say anything about the JD. Well, I also didn't say anything about Middle East policy, taxes in Kansas or climate change on Mars. So by his logic I offered pretty weak arguments on those topics too.

I made one innocuous comment stating that the decline in enrollment among graduates with the potential for high LSAT scores may be due to graduates taking jobs at graduation. I followed that by stating a completely obvious, should not be contentious at all statement that they may find a graduate degree helpful when building a career.

If you do not agree with the statement that graduate degrees can be helpful in building a career, then we will just have to agree to disagree.



You just don't get it ... ever. Perhaps that is because your paycheck depends on you not understanding.

You came right out the box with this: "So it looks like the students who would probably gain the most from the current admissions environment (large scholarships at good schools with good employment prospects) are the ones turning away the most. My guess? These students are finding employment opportunities right out of college making them less likely to seek a graduate degree. My other guess - in time they'll find that career building without a graduate degree has its limits."

In other words, ENROLL NOW! That's your one note, your one point, your one message. This one adds: "Or, you'll be sorry later."

These are the tactics used by parents to nag children. Perhaps that is how you view prospective students (it is fairly clear this is so). Perhaps you think the FL is a good place to hawk your wares.

But, please Steven, stop arguing, on and on, about how you are always correct that law school is a great deal and everyone needs to get in now while the getting is good.

There is a great way to sell law school. GET OFF THESE BLOGS, STEVEN! Stop selling law school like a financial product! It is demeaning and further contributing to the ruin of what is left of the reputation of legal academia.

You are digging the hole ever deeper. I ask again: does your law school permit you to join in these discussions to sell a law school education based on your sort of amateurish economic predictions and analysis? Do you actually believe these tactics are effective and principled? Do you actually believe the only value that a law school education could possibly have is measured in money and advancement?

This is all so sad because it is so avoidable.



Steven I have no objection in hearing your views on almost any subject.

But, your views about how to sell a legal education, which you cannot deny is your frequent purpose, are, again in my view, demeaning, demoralizing and counter-productive. These views are well known, and part of your job in any event.

Again, this just isn't the space, it seems to me, for commercials peppered with misleading statements, posted here for naked financial gain and advantage.

Steven Freedman

@ anon

"They'll find that career building without a graduate degree has its limits."

So your view is that that not only constitutes a "commercial peppered with misleading statements" but is also "demeaning, demoralizing and counter-productive?"

Funny, I just don't see that.



Didn't expect you to see things the same way.

But, you are just arguing "I am right." Well, Steven, you are right: I don't agree. Honestly, Steven, you are understandably never willing to see that you are wrong. That is ok, I guess, on a personal level. But, on a professional level, not so much.

Even when you admitted that you had misadvised students in the past (yes, I have read your posts carefully), your mea culpa was laced with the typical "I was wrong then, but, listen to me now and enroll!" Instead of getting out of the game of posturing and promoting financial predictions on blogs, you doubled down on your theory that in a couple of years, we will see the best market for lawyers in history.

Sure, Steven. Sure. But, you just don't get the reason that whether you can justify one or another of your pitches, coming on these blogs to pitch in the manner that you do is, per se, a "commercial peppered with misleading statements" and also "demeaning, demoralizing and counter-productive."

Why is it so hard to understand that, by viewing law school as a financial product to be sold like an annuity, you have already lost the argument and demeaned legal academia and its mission?

You think you are countering misinformation that has caused a decline in enrollment. In my view, it is the folks in your role who are responsible for propounding misinformation in the past (you have admitted this) and, instead of getting out of the game and letting the ship right itself, are making things worse by continuing to put forth the specious notion that law school is a value only in terms of money, advancement and prestige. Every one of these posts digs the hole deeper. Among the major causes of the decline in enrollment, one cause certainly is the disrepute associated with the manner in which law schools tried to "sell" prospective students. But, like the folks on Wall Street, you just can't see, can't understand, can't reform and change.

My question: Did your employer tell you to go out on blogs and pitch a law school education as a great financial investment? (This is a yes or no question)

terry malloy

Keep talking your book, Admissions Dean Freedman.

Every post make you look more like a desperate salesman character in glengarry glen ross.

We're adding a little something to this month's sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired.

Derek Tokaz


Nobody moved any goalposts. You offered up your profession as an example. ("Just to use my own profession as an example.") It's not my fault that you chose to give an entirely unrepresentative example.

If you know for a fact that there are jobs out in the business world where you cannot advance but for a graduate degree, please tell us about those jobs and explain just why the people making hiring/promotion decisions value the degree so much. The more representative the better. Bonus points if your example speaks to a JD. And please, avoid a "I know because I know" argument.


After reading all of these comments, the question I have is whether law schools will implement real change (to curriculum, greater emphasis on practice, tuition, clarity in employment outcomes, faculty hiring, etc) now that things have seemingly stabilized.

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