Why Are There No Puerto Rican Scamblogs?

[UPDATE: You can read the Am Law Daily version of this article here.]

Probably because students are still too busy protesting an $800 fee hike from earlier this year (Tamar Lewin, “In Puerto Rico, Protests End Short Peace at University,” in The New York Times). The university chose to compensate a $200 million budget cut with the new fee rather than a tuition hike, which led the students to take over buildings, frequently with professors’ support.

As at many public universities elsewhere in the United States, students here worry that the new fiscal realities will restrict who can attend.

This is definitely not a problem with Puerto Rico’s law schools, which are over-enrolled relative to the island’s market. When gathering and analyzing data on legal education, Puerto Rico is second only to D.C. in distorting my averages and standard deviations. So outside the mainstream is the Commonwealth that none of its three ABA law schools send their data to U.S. News. I’ve seen them, and I can tell you their tuition is much lower than elsewhere, probably due to their refusal to play the rankings game as well as the island’s low purchasing power parity per capita GDP relative to the rest of the U.S.

Here’s one datum that surprised me. Since the Bureau of Labor Statistics connects us to the number of employed attorneys by state in 2008, and the ABA gives us the numbers of attorneys “active and resident” in American jurisdictions for 2008 and 2009, I can give you a statistic I dub, “idle attorneys,” which is the proportion of “active and resident” attorneys not “employed” as lawyers. Idle attorneys could very well be gainfully employed, but the high percentages and variance between the states suggest that their legal educations weren’t that useful unless they are the few who sit on the bench or are working for the government in some other capacity, e.g. as legislators. I’ve also calculated the number of idle attorneys per 100,000 residents.

Behold.

# STATE (# ABA Schools) Idle Attys Idle/100k ←#
1 Puerto Rico (3) 66.44% 209 5
2 Oregon (3) 56.10% 168 8
3 Massachusetts (7)* 49.18% 319 3
4 Missouri (4) 49.03% 186 6
5 Connecticut (3) 47.72% 259 4
6 Ohio (9) 45.80% 146 11
7 Kentucky (3) 45.18% 125 17
8 Alaska (0) 44.23% 153 9
9 New York (15) 42.78% 331 2
10 Tennessee (3)* 42.63% 104 25
11 Michigan (5) 40.77% 131 14
12 Alabama (3)* 40.22% 114 22
13 Arkansas (2) 39.82% 79 34
14 Texas (9) 39.22% 119 19
15 Wyoming (1) 38.84% 112 24
16 Pennsylvania (8) 38.35% 141 12
17 Illinois (9) 37.84% 180 7
18 Iowa (2) 37.63% 87 32
19 Louisiana (4) 36.52% 139 13
20 West Virginia (1) 36.34% 92 30
21 California (20)* 36.05% 146 10
22 Oklahoma (3) 34.45% 117 21
23 Montana (1) 34.25% 101 26
24 Kansas (2) 33.67% 95 29
25 Nebraska (2) 33.55% 96 28
26 Washington (3) 33.38% 113 23
27 Rhode Island (1) 33.17% 128 15
28 New Mexico (1) 32.60% 86 33
29 Maryland (2) 31.89% 118 20
30 Minnesota (4) 30.32% 127 16
31 New Hampshire (1) 28.98% 73 35
32 Indiana (4) 28.19% 60 39
33 Wisconsin (2) 28.09% 72 36
34 Hawaii (1) 28.02% 90 31
35 New Jersey (3) 27.25% 124 18
36 South Carolina (2) 25.90% 52 40
37 Colorado (2) 25.43% 97 27
38 North Carolina (7) 24.55% 50 41
39 Georgia (5) 23.24% 65 37
40 Maine (1) 22.09% 60 38
41 Mississippi (2) 21.76% 50 42
42 Nevada (1) 20.72% 48 43
43 Idaho (1) 18.62% 41 44
44 Florida (11) 11.63% 38 45
45 District of Columbia (6) 9.16% 725 1
46 North Dakota (1) 7.81% 16 48
47 Arizona (3) 7.14% 14 49
48 Virginia (8) 6.62% 18 47
49 Vermont (1) 5.18% 18 46
50 Utah (2) -13.92% -32 50
51 Delaware (1) -14.81% -43 51
N/A South Dakota (1) N/A N/A N/A
USA Average (199) 34.60% 130

66.44% of Puerto Rico’s attorneys were active and resident but not working as lawyers in 2008, and it comes in fifth in number of idle attorneys per capita after D.C., New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, a clear misfit.

Now I’ll do something I’ve been avoiding: diving into LSAC employment data. Because I find the composition of these data so suspect, I’m going to limit myself to the percentages of non-responses to post-graduate employment surveys. If you look in the source pdfs, enrollments at Puerto Rico’s three law schools are distributed fairly evenly, so it’s not like Pontifical Catholic has only 12 graduates per year while the University of Puerto Rico has 500. Also, I had to exclude Puerto Rico’s fourth law school, Eugenio María de Hostos School of Law (founded 1995), for want of data.

First of all, Inter-American’s employment numbers are extremely suspect. The reason its line plateaus as it does is that all its employment numbers (# employed in law firms, # employed in “business and industry,” etc.) published in the Official ABA Guide for 2008 are identical to those from 2007, and the same goes for with 2005 and 2004. I’m surprised the editors of ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools wouldn’t notice that or alert its readers. I wonder if more is going on here…

Second: Look at the University of Puerto Rico. Even in its best year, only 46.7% of its 2007 grads bothered to return their employment surveys. And the Times says the protesting students are worried that enrollments will be restricted.

Third, I included the University of Hawaii in the graph because I think it makes a good comparison. It’s actually quite interesting.

Puerto Rico Hawaii
Law Schools (total)/10 million Residents (2010) 10.736 (4) 7.351 (1)
ABA Law Students/10,000 Residents (2009) 5.863 2.641
Percent Idle Attorneys (2008) 66.44% 28.02%
Idle Lawyers/100,000 Residents (2008) 209 90
Annual Grads/Job Opening (2008-2018) 5.54 1.47
Annual Projected Surplus Graduates/100,000 Residents (2008-2018) 11 2
Projected Job Growth (~2018) 4.07% -0.67%

Obviously, Hawaii still has a surplus of graduates relative to its own economy, and there’s no deficit elsewhere in the country, so the comparison doesn’t let the Five-O off the hook. That said, if Hawaii is over-enrolled, then Puerto Rico’s law schools are a disaster and badly need to be pared down, even if we can expect 4.07% job growth there.

So: What the buh?

The answer may lie in a fairly good analysis of Puerto Rico, a 2006 Economist article with a title that hints at the Gilligan, “Trouble on Welfare Island,” which closes with the following:

[B]ecause of the small private sector, too few well-educated Puerto Ricans are gaining useful skills and experience in the marketplace.

As he walked through Aguadilla’s town hall recently, [Mayor] Carlos Méndez boasted about each employee’s university or graduate-school credentials as he introduced them. The trouble, he says, is that “All they want to do is find security only. They have no ambition…Everybody wants to work for the government.”

Puerto Rico thrives on federal government transfer payments via Social Security and other programs, and because people can more easily claim disability there than elsewhere, they don’t work. The result is a moribund private sector and with it an unemployable—and occasionally overeducated—labor force. These circumstances differ from the mainland U.S. where educated Americans can’t as easily claim disability benefits and not work, and unlike the Puerto Rican government, holder of 30% of the island’s jobs, the U.S. government is trying to cut jobs when it should be expanding to utilize idle workers.

I don’t know whether students attending Puerto Rico’s law schools are debt peons like their American peers. I can say that if there’s any place not worth going to law school, it’s Puerto Rico. I just hope the students aren’t demanding cheap, over-enrolled higher education that will only hurt the poor more than help them.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Links–Louisiana College of Law, & Rankings vs. Grades

(1) We have a David Lat piece at Above the Law on Louisiana College’s proposed law school, “A Law School Is Coming to Shreveport—Hallelujah!

I have a few points to add to Lat’s piece.  First, Louisiana, as you may know, has one of the worst ratios of law students to residents in the country (1 for 1,628.15 persons).  It also fares poorly economically with 1 law student for every $80.54 million in GSP.  Louisiana is in the top ten for both.  A fifth law school there is an unusually bad idea.

Second point, unlike Lat, I use combined statistical areas rather than municipal populations.  Here, the Shreveport-Bossier City-Minden CSA has 432,060 residents with ~200,000 in Shreveport.  That doesn’t help much given the above, but with an opening class of 40, it’ll have an enrollment of about 120, leaving 1 law student per 3,600.5 residents.  This is likely well offset by the J.D. cadres pouring out of Louisiana’s other law schools.

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Legal Education in New York: Top of the Heap or Dream Deferred

For the record, I have no taste for Frank Sinatra.

Okay, I’m in the mood for more number-crunching, so I shall inflict it upon you, faithless reader.  In recent weeks, the dramatic regional law student saturation stuck in my mind.  Because it’s a large and popular market, I turn to the other state I haven’t been disciplined in: New York.

For those of you who read the Charge of the Juris Doctor Brigade, you’ll recall that New York added four law schools between 1970 and 1983 (one opened in 1970, but I didn’t count it, sparing the state further embarrassment).  All of these newer ones are in the New York metropolitan area.  Interestingly, unlike other areas that’ve grown rapidly in the postwar era, New York City and state suffered a population decline between 1970 and 1980.  That didn’t prevent these law schools from opening though, so we can predict that the city’s law school density issues are quite dire.  Let’s see…

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Failure to Launch: The Curious Case of Wilkes Law School, PA

Most criticisms of new law schools target UC Irvine and UMass School of Law.  Too bad the critics missed an opportunity to celebrate: last month Wilkes Law School’s opening was delayed two to four years according to Citizen’s Voice’s Andrew Staub, “Financial Worries Stall Wilkes Law School Plans.”

I'm proud to say this emerged from my imagination.

Eyeballing the Wikipedia, Northeastern Pennsylvania’s population is probably 1.2 million, and with only 325 students leaves 3,738.5 inhabitants per law student.  That looks pretty good, but the state average is much lower.  Pennsylvania, according to my research, is just above the national average (17th) in law students/state population (2,118.8), has a somewhat low law school/state population ratio (34th), but has one law student for every $93 million gross state product (18th, below national average).  With eight law schools operating, another law school adding 325 full time students (alone!) would move the state to 15th in law students per population, 25th in law schools per population, and 16th in law students per $1 million GSP (2,009, 1,400,529.7, and $88.2 million).  It’s not as severe as the rest of the northeast, the Valley of Death for law students, but including part-time students, Widener’s Wilmington, DE campus (close to Philadelphia) and law schools in badly-saturated New York, the new law school probably wouldn’t do students, the region, or the state much good.

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Land of 10,000 Lakes and One Tuition Bubble, Part II

In Part I we found out just how saturated the Twin Cities are with law students and how the cities’ schools want to address their tuition woes by integrating their libraries.  Dean Wippman (Minnesota) noted 70% of his budget is salaries, so for you Dean, we’ll discuss faculty and salaries.

Recall that Jack Crittenden singled the law schools’ faculty expansion and salary increases as the bubble’s swellpoint, both to retain faculty and maintain low faculty/student ratios for their US News rankings.  Thornton uncritically acknowledges that law professors make $100,000 on average.  Meanwhile the deans claim the salaries are flat.  Fortunately for the black-helicopter trackers who read this blog, William Mitchell College of Law is the source of the Society for American Legal Teachers (SALT)’s annual salary survey.  I don’t know what their methodology is but here’s a peek at the 2009 and 2010 numbers:

Table 2: Twin Cities Law School Salary Increases Continue reading

Land of 10,000 Lakes and One Tuition Bubble, Part I

If you didn’t know already, yours truly grew up in the Twin Cities, up the road from Westlaw’s corporate headquarters in Eagan, MN.  Thus, I take special delight investigating the law school tuition bubble’s havoc on my home state.  Minnesota, as you may know, is home to four law schools, which due to its population and economic output, places it high on my measures of law student saturation per population and per million dollars of gross state product.  Let’s compare the Twin Cities to other cities in the Midwest to see just how dire the situation is: Continue reading

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