Search the Lounge


« Egg Donors Get Pay Limits Axed With Antitrust Settlement | Main | Garrow on the Aging of the Supreme Court »

February 02, 2016


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


This huge increase justified a prediction that applicants will be up 3-5% this year!

And, remember, all this increase will come at the end because applicants are coming in later in the season (which mathematically must continue).

Or, wait, was that can't continue?


Transparency is driving all of this, which is why law schools oppose both transparency and Law School Transparency.

We will see an increase of 5 percent in LSATs administered this cycle. We likely will end up slightly down in terms of applicants by the end of the cycle, as I do not see the continuation of late-cycle application increases that we've seen year over year for the last 4 cycles.

There is a flight to quality and a good number of schools will experience a vicious cycle of bad numbers scaring away good students. PAYE and REPAYE are scary to 0Ls too. Why would you enroll in a program knowing that you'll have to pay 10 percent of your income to Sallie Mae for more than two decades? It steals any wage premium and gives it to the schools. Students are not fools.

Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King

I believe we can all stipulate that law school training is a great education. It "teaches" one how to "read." I relish and cherish the way I understand how our systems work and that I am the face of justice in my community and to my clients.

The key to transparency is to tell all prospective students that the legal profession is not the vehicle to a stable, sustainable middle class income it once was just a very few short years ago. That the average solo, which is fifty percent of the profession, takes in around 35-40K per year and that the BLS figures does not include that Solo practice data.

In other words, don't argue with the data.


Cpt Carswell,

You're a little light on your salary average, but only a little. I'd say 50k to 70k depending on year.

Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King


I believe Prof. Campos cited to around 40K. My colleagues and I believe 60K is the holy grail of income and salary for a solo, unconnected attorney. It is a huge barrier to get beyond that. Still, even at 50K, your figure, is still paltry given the extent of education, training and risks we take to become attorneys. That does not include student loan debt.


No argument that the juice is not worth the squeeze at 50 or 60k. I believe until you hit six figures, law is not worth the tuition, stress, time, personalities, and fights, good luck consistently clearing 75k. Does not happen.

Derek Tokaz

The Alabama Bar releases a regular economic survey of attorneys in the state, though a low (22%) response rate might throw the numbers off a bit.

About a quarter of lawyers were true solos, and another quarter were in 2-5 person firms.

Of the solos, about 25-30% made more than $100k. About 23% made $25k or less and 20% made between $25k and $50k.

For small shops the numbers are considerably better. About 35% make $100k or more. Only 8% are below $25k, and about 17% are between $25k and $50k.

Overall, 45% made $100k or more, and 25% made $50k or less. But, I don't think the averages are really what people should be too concerned about. It's the size of the downside that's really troubling, even if the average is okay.

Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King


It is not stress, the personalities, "fights" (as you put it) clients and their uncooperative mopery or even an occasional judge who yells and screams and gets it wrong. I signed up for that. What I did not bargain for is the explosion in the hundred or so diploma mill like correspondence law schools saturating the market with lawyers. The ABA broke open the standards. Now I am competing with $49.00 dollar traffics and new lawyers (SEE The Ticket Clinic, Chicago...the managing attorney was entered the Bar in 2015) with 10 AVVO ratings. Big billboards posted along the Chicago Expressways proclaim: "Don't Pay that Ticket, Don't Pay the Fine, NO Court. $49.00" and show an copper pointing a radar gun.

confused by your post

These applicant numbers are a bit of a surprise on the down side. With the last post showing a 2-3% increase in applicants and modest year over year increases in LSAT takers on the last 5 test dates I expected slightly more applicants.

I do think that we will see more late applicants in the cycle than last year. As I've said here in the past schools have adapted. Their recruiting efforts do not end in March or April anymore. They spend a lot more time, money and energy late in the cycle to get butts in the seats and they are better at it now.

Derek Tokaz

If you think those $50 traffic cases are bad, you don't want to watch the recent Shark Tank episode where a company had an automated challenge process. Customers hand over the ticket, they run the data through an automated analysis that looks for technical defects, and then challenges the ticket. Only pay if they win, and it's something like 30% of the ticket amount.

There's also more automation happening in document review. Granted, that's not real lawyering, but less doc review jobs will push more lawyers into the (excuse my French) caca-law field.


Derek, thanks for mentioning that automated thing. I had not thought about that; it opens up many areas.

Also, as I have said before, I believe that offshoring has yet to hit the US legal industry.
Doc review has paved the way, since it showed that a large chunk of 'legal work ' is more like standard data-entry work. And with it crossing state lines, crossing national borders is a small step.


Derek and BarryL,

I know of at least one major insurance carrier that has centralized its run-of-the-mill legal work in a few regional law centers. Staff counsel handles court appearances, depositions, etc., and substantive factual briefs, in its various state offices. The three or four regional law centers ghost-write routine motions, pleadings, etc. It makes for a highly-specialized lean office, and it cuts down on the number of "real lawyers" that the insurance company needs in each market.

The market for attorneys is just beginning to change, and it will change for the worse over the next decade. Just wait until the meat and potatoes PI tort case work declines due to self-driving cars, centralized insurance staff counsel office, etc. A 30 percent decline in litigation work at small offices, translates to a similar decline in total numbers of small law litigators.


There is so much doom, gloom, and outright negativity on posts relating to legal education. I understand that things may not be great but the comments don't seem to be representative.

Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King

9:14 pm:

These comments are representative of the data and actual practice experiences. I know many veteran and newbie attorneys who are struggling to earn a sustainable middle class income. It is not pretty out there. One of my unemployed attorney buddies out in excess of thirty years from a T1 school attended a jobs networking event in an upscale suburb. Out of twenty attendees, five were unemployed attorneys including him. I know attorneys, far better than me, working retail on weekends to make ends meet. Check out the Law School Lemmings blog....check out Above The Law.


Yes, but there are many who are experiencing different outcomes, and the tide is turning. Legal education has taken great steps in recent years -- more transparency, greater emphasis on practice, more concern for employment outcomes, more manageable tuition, etc. The reform is far from complete but there have been meaningful changes.

Kyle McEntee

Jojo, what insurance carrier is that? I'd like to interview one of their attorneys for our podcast, I Am The Law.


Schools have not reformed tuition, which is the primary problem, and "practice-ready" skills are not particularly relevant if the work isn't there. The problem is schools have grown so much and on the backs of skyrocketing tuition that they are for the most part not particularly sustainable. The tide isn't turning; all that's happening is every year the supply of lawyers grows.

Matthew Bruckner

Law school tuition cannot fall until the cost structure of law school changes. And if the automation and innovation in law practice that you describe does not translate to law schools, it's not clear how law schools will change their cost structures. Maybe through school closings and mergers creating economies of scale, but the opposite seems to be happening. New law schools continue to open and the ones that close/merge do not appear to be offsetting the ones that open.

I encourage you to think about law schools like other distressed businesses. We should expect to see them take steps to decrease their costs (faculty and staff buyouts, attrition, salary cuts, etc.) and increase their revenue streams (new LLM programs, etc.) For some, this will be enough to squeak by. For others, it won't be and they'll feel pressure to merge or close.

Curiously, bankruptcy reorganization is NOT an option for most colleges. see


Agree with twin, anon. The "reforms" are really few and far between. Changing legal Ed is like turning a battleship that does not want to turn. Other disciplines have been far more nimble in moving to online education, responding to the needs of the marketplace in offering new programs, etc. I am especially thinking of the allied health fields and had some experience working at an allied health college. Worlds apart from legal Ed in terms of adaptability. Enrollment in certain field such as PT was limited to ensure all grads got jobs, too.

We all know most of those in legal Ed esp faculty and senior admins really don't want to change.


Meant agree with TWBB.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad