‘Accreditation Reform Unlikely to Change Legal Education’ on the Am Law Daily

Accreditation Reform Unlikely to Change Legal Education

I chose not to comment on the renewed attack on law professors’ scholarship in The New York Times as it wasn’t germane to my article. Sure, a few statements from judges and lawyers isn’t a scientific analysis of journal articles’ value, but as I see it, the law of diminishing returns should tell us that adding 30%+ more full-time, non-clinical, journal-article-writing instructors to law schools over 15 years can’t really add much social utility if the graduates can’t get jobs.

So… How many people are dressing up as Sister Ray for Halloween?

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No Bubble, Just ROCK!!! Vol. 7: Government Shutdown Edition

Mellow is the Bubble

I’m working on law school tuition data right now, so there won’t be too many posts for spell, but in honor of legislative obstinacy, I give you two contributions in honor of government.

First, continuing the Talking Heads kick from a couple weeks ago:

Second, here’s one from the Magnetic Fields.

Cynics will appreciate line, “It’s not the people doing something real.” That’s 1999 for you.

Unsave the Date

For those of you paying attention to my Am Law Daily posts, at the bio blurb at the end I would note that I will be speaking on student loan debt at the Henry George School of Social Science in New York City on September 27, 2013. I hadn’t announced it here because it hadn’t been finalized.

…Which is fine because it’s been postponed until a later date for various reasons.

I’ll let y’all know when it is rescheduled.

In the meantime, here’s Martha Reeves and the Vandellas running through an auto plant.

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‘Law School Tuition Will Rise Despite Applicant Nosevdive’ on The Am Law Daily

Law School Tuition Will Rise Despite Applicant Nosedive

[MINI-UPDATE: In the article, I mentioned that the University of Arkansas still had its 2012-13 tuition rates posted as of the time of the dean's Bloomberg Law interview. As of September 4, it still hasn't been updated.]

I’ve been listening to this song on repeat, which I guess means I like it. I saw Fear of Men in New York City in June. Good show, but no one bootlegged this song for some reason.

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LSTB Is on Holiday

I’m taking a rare vacation, which may hamper blogging. In the meantime, outgoing Illinois State Bar Association president John E. Thies has written a letter to the editor at The Am Law Daily criticizing my article on state bar association proposals, “State Bar Proposals Fail to Address Law Students’ Woes.”

The good news is I have little quarrel with Thies as even he recognizes at the end of his letter. We agree on some of the means to reform but not the reasons, which is important but not important enough to dedicate an enormous number of mental clock cycles in rejoinder, and since I didn’t make any material misstatements of fact in my article I’ll spare The Am Law Daily any corrections. (They can thank me later.)

(1)  My argument was indirect, but I think my examples illustrated that the Special Committee claimed debt created a price floor. In fact, its report said “EXCESSIVE LAW SCHOOL DEBT DECREASES THE QUANTITY AND QUALITY OF LEGAL SERVICES AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC.” That sure sounds like a price floor to me. Then in his third paragraph, Thies agrees with me that the “public’s ability to pay” is keeping lawyer earnings down, which makes the rest of his letter confusing. Is he agreeing with me or not?

(2)  As for Thies’ examples of attorneys’ employment choices due to debt. They should have access to IBR/ICR (more on that below), and in some situations it sounded like the employers wanted experienced lawyers, not recent graduates.

(3)  Thus, Thies presents an economic theory stating that low-skill lawyers are discouraged from the profession by debt, creating a long-term shortage of high-skill lawyers. It sounds to me that when demand is slack for lawyers, new graduates don’t get hired. Indeed, this has been going on for a while as the profession is graying. As Thies and I agreed (I think), poor people are poor. This causes lawyer unemployment.

(4)  Regarding IBR and interest capitalization, 20 U.S.C. 1098e(b)(3) says that so long as the debtor has a “partial financial hardship” interest does not capitalize onto principal, which applies to the lawyers Thies mentions. Once someone no longer has a PFH, then the interest gets capitalized, but that’s when IBR essentially turns into a 10-year repayment plan. If anything, Thies’ lawyers would be better off staying at lower-paying jobs to prevent interest capitalization. (I guess the trick is to defer compensation until after the loans are canceled. Talk about bad incentives.)

The Department of Education prints this too. Only Illinois’ three public law schools’ graduates had less than $100,000 in disbursed debt on average at graduation as of 2012. Even U of Illinois’ was $95,830. These debtors will have to fork out $8,500 per year on a 25-year repayment plan unless it’s a graduated plan. Good luck to them if they can afford it, but they’ll almost certainly choose IBR since they’re either unemployed or it costs them less in the long run thanks to cancelation.

(5)  My fear isn’t of the John E. Thieses of the world but of the kinds of people who will be whispering the Philip Schrag (or worse Simkovic and McIntyre) argument into legislators’ ears that we’re wrong about student loan debt so keep shoveling the law schools money. (Better yet, pay the law schools up front and the government will recoup the costs by income taxes.)

(6)  It’s asking a bit much of the Special Committee, but why do graduates from NIU and SIU have less debt yet poorer outcomes than other Illinois law school grads? If that’s so, then it’s time to consider shutting them down because they’re unnecessary. And if U of Illinois is going to charge $38,500 (2012) for in-state students and defraud the ABA just to maintain its place in the U.S. News rankings, then it’s abandoned its public mission and should be shut down too.

Now for some ROCK AND ROLL!!!!!

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Okay it’s soul, but the video is genius.

The Night Disco Died

Disco Demolition Night, Comiskey Park, Chicago, July 12, 1979.

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Here are some primary sources for additional research.

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Heavy Traffic

…Is probably Ralph Bakshi’s best movie. I watched it on YouTube a few weeks back along with Fritz the Cat, which was disappointing because it was like a Woody Allen movie without Allen’s neurotic characters’ comedic qualities. Loved the animation though.

Anyway, if you’ve been directed here about the law graduate overproduction page, please read the article I wrote for The Am Law Daily a few weeks ago. It’s more thorough, includes the number of annual bar admits, is professionally edited, and it helps pay my bills more than the blog does.

Other than that, I’ve got nothing else right now. Until I do, I won’t make you sit through Heavy Traffic, but for readers who know the site, here’s some more New Wave.

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