CLASS OF 2018 EMPLOYMENT REPORT: The Rankings

As an appendix to my employment report, here is a ranking of all the law schools that reported employment data by their percentages of graduates finding full-time, long-term, bar-passage-required jobs. (Taste all the those hyphens.)

PERCENT GRADUATES EMPLOYED FULL-TIME/LONG-TERM IN BAR-PASSAGE-REQUIRED JOBS (EXCL. LAW-SCHOOL-FUNDED JOBS)
RANK LAW SCHOOL ’17 ’18 CHANGE
1. Columbia 92.6% 93.5% 0.9%
2. Virginia 91.6% 92.6% 1.1%
3. Duke 93.8% 91.4% -2.4%
4. Chicago 92.1% 91.3% -0.8%
5. Cornell 92.1% 90.8% -1.3%
6. New York University 88.6% 89.7% 1.1%
7. Northwestern 82.3% 89.5% 7.3%
8. Michigan 90.4% 89.3% -1.0%
9. California-Berkeley 88.2% 89.3% 1.1%
10. Pennsylvania 90.6% 88.9% -1.7%
11. Seton Hall 82.6% 88.6% 6.0%
12. Washington University 85.8% 87.6% 1.7%
13. Iowa 77.4% 87.2% 9.9%
14. Belmont 75.6% 87.2% 11.5%
15. Kentucky 79.6% 87.0% 7.4%
16. Washington and Lee 79.8% 86.7% 6.9%
17. Harvard 86.7% 86.1% -0.6%
18. Georgia 84.0% 85.6% 1.7%
19. Texas 79.2% 85.3% 6.1%
20. Stanford 82.7% 85.0% 2.2%
21. Baylor 82.3% 84.7% 2.4%
22. Vanderbilt 86.2% 82.7% -3.5%
23. St. John’s 72.0% 82.3% 10.3%
24. North Carolina 70.8% 82.2% 11.4%
25. Notre Dame 80.7% 82.0% 1.3%
26. Nebraska 74.0% 81.9% 7.9%
27. Georgetown 76.8% 81.8% 5.0%
28. Fordham 70.2% 81.4% 11.2%
29. Penn State (Dickinson Law) 67.2% 81.0% 13.7%
30. Minnesota 80.5% 80.7% 0.2%
31. Texas Tech 69.5% 80.6% 11.1%
32. Florida 75.9% 80.6% 4.7%
33. Boston University 75.6% 80.5% 5.0%
34. California-Los Angeles 79.1% 80.3% 1.3%
35. Colorado 76.2% 80.3% 4.1%
36. Southern Methodist 75.8% 80.0% 4.2%
37. Ohio State 76.4% 79.8% 3.4%
38. William and Mary 76.0% 79.7% 3.7%
39. Rutgers 76.8% 79.7% 2.8%
40. Louisiana State 81.3% 79.3% -2.1%
41. Illinois 78.2% 79.2% 1.0%
42. Southern California 85.6% 79.0% -6.6%
43. Tulsa 81.4% 79.0% -2.4%
44. Washington 68.9% 78.9% 10.0%
45. Villanova 75.5% 78.9% 3.4%
46. Hofstra 75.9% 77.8% 1.9%
47. Detroit Mercy 43.7% 77.7% 34.0%
48. Alabama 83.2% 77.5% -5.7%
49. South Carolina 68.1% 77.5% 9.4%
50. Nevada 75.8% 77.4% 1.6%
51. Wisconsin 74.2% 77.3% 3.1%
52. Yale 75.0% 77.2% 2.2%
53. Utah 76.1% 77.2% 1.1%
54. Temple 79.3% 77.0% -2.2%
55. Montana 74.4% 76.8% 2.4%
56. Willamette 67.0% 76.6% 9.6%
57. California-Davis 71.3% 76.3% 5.0%
58. Florida State 70.4% 76.1% 5.7%
59. Cardozo, Yeshiva 80.1% 76.1% -4.0%
60. Loyola (CA) 68.2% 76.1% 7.8%
61. Oklahoma 80.8% 76.0% -4.7%
62. Louisville 71.2% 76.0% 4.7%
63. Houston 66.2% 75.7% 9.4%
64. Drake 62.1% 75.5% 13.4%
65. Brigham Young 60.0% 75.4% 15.4%
66. Boston College 79.4% 74.8% -4.6%
67. Emory 71.9% 74.8% 2.9%
68. Florida International 72.3% 74.7% 2.4%
69. California-Irvine 75.0% 74.6% -0.4%
70. Connecticut 65.4% 74.4% 9.1%
71. Stetson 63.5% 74.0% 10.5%
72. Cleveland State 52.1% 73.9% 21.7%
73. Miami 75.4% 73.7% -1.7%
74. Drexel 71.0% 73.6% 2.7%
75. Arizona State 74.2% 73.6% -0.7%
76. Northeastern 69.7% 73.5% 3.8%
77. George Washington 69.8% 72.3% 2.6%
78. Albany 70.9% 72.3% 1.4%
79. Kansas 68.6% 72.3% 3.7%
80. Duquesne 63.5% 71.7% 8.2%
81. Indiana (Bloomington) 67.2% 71.6% 4.4%
82. Georgia State 69.6% 71.5% 1.9%
83. Liberty 63.8% 71.1% 7.3%
84. Pace 74.7% 71.1% -3.6%
85. Marquette 71.2% 70.9% -0.3%
86. Wayne State 57.0% 70.9% 13.9%
87. St. Louis 72.7% 69.9% -2.8%
88. Missouri (Columbia) 75.5% 69.9% -5.6%
89. Tulane 64.0% 69.9% 5.9%
90. New Hampshire 77.0% 69.9% -7.2%
91. Mercer 69.6% 69.7% 0.1%
92. Maryland 57.1% 69.7% 12.6%
93. Wyoming 67.1% 69.4% 2.3%
94. Tennessee 73.0% 69.3% -3.7%
95. Lincoln Memorial 76.5% 69.2% -7.2%
96. SUNY Buffalo 61.2% 69.2% 8.0%
97. Oklahoma City 65.6% 69.1% 3.5%
98. Penn State (Penn State Law) 71.9% 68.8% -3.1%
99. Creighton 68.3% 68.3% 0.0%
100. Regent 59.0% 68.2% 9.2%
101. Washburn 66.0% 68.0% 2.0%
102. Loyola (LA) 57.0% 67.9% 10.9%
103. Samford 62.3% 67.9% 5.6%
104. Pepperdine 59.6% 67.9% 8.2%
105. Michigan State 59.3% 67.5% 8.1%
106. Texas A&M [Wesleyan] 64.1% 67.4% 3.3%
107. Touro 68.0% 67.4% -0.6%
108. Brooklyn 71.7% 67.3% -4.4%
109. Wake Forest 75.1% 67.1% -8.0%
110. Syracuse 69.1% 67.1% -2.1%
111. City University 69.1% 66.7% -2.5%
112. Baltimore 60.3% 66.7% 6.4%
113. West Virginia 74.5% 66.3% -8.2%
114. Case Western Reserve 60.1% 65.9% 5.7%
115. George Mason 60.5% 65.7% 5.2%
116. Richmond 67.8% 65.2% -2.6%
117. San Diego 59.3% 65.2% 5.8%
118. Cincinnati 75.7% 64.4% -11.3%
119. St. Thomas (MN) 53.3% 64.4% 11.1%
120. California-Hastings 58.9% 64.3% 5.3%
121. Chicago-Kent, IIT 59.6% 64.2% 4.6%
122. Idaho 60.4% 64.2% 3.8%
123. Hawaii 58.3% 64.2% 5.9%
124. South Dakota 58.2% 64.1% 5.9%
125. Maine 55.4% 64.0% 8.6%
126. Gonzaga 62.6% 63.9% 1.3%
127. Denver 70.2% 63.1% -7.2%
128. Pittsburgh 63.0% 63.0% -0.1%
129. Lewis and Clark 56.3% 62.9% 6.6%
130. New Mexico 77.4% 62.5% -14.9%
131. Missouri (Kansas City) 74.1% 62.2% -11.9%
132. Quinnipiac 61.9% 61.8% -0.1%
133. Loyola (IL) 62.2% 61.7% -0.5%
134. Vermont 55.6% 61.5% 5.9%
135. Arizona 64.8% 61.5% -3.4%
136. New York Law School 51.0% 61.2% 10.1%
137. Arkansas (Fayetteville) 68.1% 61.1% -7.0%
138. St. Thomas (FL) 54.7% 61.0% 6.3%
139. Widener (Commonwealth) 59.0% 60.4% 1.4%
140. Howard 63.1% 60.2% -3.0%
141. Dayton 50.0% 59.0% 9.0%
142. South Texas-Houston 53.0% 58.6% 5.6%
143. Santa Clara 56.6% 58.5% 1.9%
144. Memphis 69.7% 58.3% -11.4%
145. Massachusetts — Dartmouth 55.1% 58.0% 2.9%
146. Catholic 55.0% 57.7% 2.8%
147. Ohio Northern 71.2% 57.6% -13.5%
148. St. Mary’s 60.2% 57.6% -2.6%
149. Roger Williams 54.1% 57.6% 3.5%
150. Southern Illinois 55.2% 57.3% 2.1%
151. Oregon 61.5% 57.1% -4.4%
152. Mississippi 62.2% 56.5% -5.7%
153. North Dakota 64.1% 56.5% -7.6%
154. Chapman 54.7% 56.0% 1.2%
155. Arkansas (Little Rock) 63.3% 55.9% -7.5%
156. Northern Illinois 60.0% 55.8% -4.2%
157. DePaul 54.8% 55.8% 1.0%
158. Ave Maria 39.5% 55.7% 16.2%
159. John Marshall (Chicago) 56.5% 55.1% -1.4%
160. Northern Kentucky 51.6% 54.8% 3.2%
161. Capital 53.8% 54.5% 0.6%
162. American 53.0% 54.2% 1.2%
163. Akron 59.2% 54.2% -5.0%
164. Indiana (Indianapolis) 55.2% 53.8% -1.4%
165. Toledo 55.3% 53.4% -1.8%
166. Seattle 57.9% 52.9% -5.0%
167. Suffolk 46.7% 52.9% 6.2%
168. Mitchell|Hamline 52.3% 52.5% 0.2%
169. North Texas-Dallas 51.5% 52.4% 0.9%
170. Concordia 62.5% 51.7% -10.8%
171. Elon 34.1% 51.4% 17.3%
172. Florida Coastal 40.8% 50.5% 9.8%
173. Campbell 62.9% 50.4% -12.5%
174. Nova Southeastern 57.1% 49.8% -7.3%
175. Pacific, McGeorge 47.3% 49.6% 2.3%
176. Widener (Delaware) 54.1% 49.1% -5.1%
177. Western State 43.8% 49.0% 5.2%
178. Southwestern 43.5% 48.1% 4.6%
179. Barry 46.3% 47.9% 1.6%
180. Charleston 44.5% 47.3% 2.7%
181. Mississippi College 51.6% 47.2% -4.5%
182. Southern University 45.6% 47.1% 1.5%
183. Texas Southern 59.4% 45.3% -14.1%
184. Faulkner 49.4% 45.0% -4.4%
185. Appalachian 52.4% 44.8% -7.6%
186. California Western 53.8% 44.0% -9.8%
187. New England 38.2% 43.7% 5.5%
188. Florida A&M 43.6% 39.7% -3.9%
189. North Carolina Central 30.1% 39.4% 9.3%
190. District of Columbia 26.8% 38.8% 12.0%
191. Arizona Summit [Phoenix] 34.4% 38.1% 3.7%
192. Western New England 42.6% 33.8% -8.8%
193. Golden Gate 37.9% 32.5% -5.4%
194. WMU Cooley 30.7% 29.7% -1.0%
195. San Francisco 49.0% 29.0% -20.0%
196. Atlanta’s John Marshall 40.0% 25.6% -14.4%
197. Puerto Rico 20.5% 23.4% 2.9%
198. La Verne 31.6% 22.4% -9.2%
199. Thomas Jefferson 23.6% 19.4% -4.1%
200. Inter American 8.8% 10.1% 1.4%
201. Pontifical Catholic 0.7% 0.0% -0.7%
202. Valparaiso 38.4% N/A N/A
203. Whittier 29.5% N/A N/A
TOTAL (EXCL. P.R.) 67.2% 69.4% 2.2%
10TH PERCENTILE (EXCL. P.R.) 47.3% 49.0% 1.7%
25TH PERCENTILE (EXCL. P.R.) 56.6% 57.6% 1.0%
MEDIAN (EXCL. P.R.) 67.1% 68.5% 1.5%
75TH PERCENTILE (EXCL. P.R.) 75.6% 77.5% 1.9%
90TH PERCENTILE (EXCL. P.R.) 82.3% 85.3% 3.0%
MEAN (EXCL. P.R.) 65.5% 67.3% 1.8%

I don’t think there are any law schools missing from the list this year, but the ABA has a habit of removing closed law schools from its database retroactively, as though they never existed at all. Impressively, Arizona Summit and Western State reported their data to the ABA.

Here’s a list of all my employment reports:

CLASS OF 2018 EMPLOYMENT REPORT: About the Same

Good morning, folks! Law-school-employment data are in, and before there’s a revision, this post will depict what they show. As with last year, I’m going to start with the headline information and save the law-school-level ranking of shame for later.

To begin with, here’s the table of graduate underemployment. (Everything on this post excludes the three Puerto Rico law schools.)

STATUS (EXCL. P.R.) 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Unemployed – Not Seeking 1,245 1,014 939 795 553 494 469 441 387
Unemployed – Seeking 2,686 4,016 4,770 5,060 4,103 3,744 3,142 2,610 2,348
Status Unknown 1,458 1,453 1,073 979 841 766 557 437 444
Total Grads 43,526 43,735 45,757 46,112 43,195 39,423 36,619 34,393 33,751
Unemployed – Not Seeking 2.9% 2.3% 2.1% 1.7% 1.3% 1.3% 1.3% 1.3% 1.1%
Unemployed – Seeking 6.2% 9.2% 10.4% 11.0% 9.5% 9.5% 8.6% 7.6% 7.0%
Status Unknown 3.3% 3.3% 2.3% 2.1% 1.9% 1.9% 1.5% 1.3% 1.3%
Total Percent 12.4% 14.8% 14.8% 14.8% 12.7% 12.7% 11.4% 10.1% 9.4%

As with the last few years, overall underemployment fell faster than the number of graduates. The rate of decline appears to be slowing, which isn’t good, but it’s still progress.

On the reverse side, 69.2 percent of graduates found full-time long-term work in bar-passage-required jobs. Last year, that figure was 67.0 percent, so it’s a two-percent jump. In three years, the percentage has risen by 6.7 points, which is quite notable. However, the rate of improvement appears to be slowing, even if the actual number of graduates finding these jobs rose by 300.

So what’s different this year? Let’s take a look at the analytic tables that compare this year to last year.

EMPLOYMENT STATUS NO. OF GRADS GRADS PCT. OF TOTAL PCT. CHANGE IN GRADS DISTRIBUTION OF CHANGE IN GRADS GINI COEFFICIENT
2017 2018 2017 2018 2018 2018 2017 2018
Employed – Bar Passage Required 23,936 23,922 69.6% 70.9% -0.1% 2.2% 0.34 0.34
Employed – JD Advantage 4,027 4,018 11.7% 11.9% -0.2% 1.4% 0.38 0.37
Employed – Professional Position 1,091 991 3.2% 2.9% -9.2% 15.6% 0.54 0.55
Employed – Non-Professional Position 399 346 1.2% 1.0% -13.3% 8.3% 0.55 0.63
Employed – Law School 604 515 1.8% 1.5% -14.7% 13.9% 0.79 0.80
Employed – Undeterminable 23 32 0.1% 0.1% 39.1% -1.4% 0.92 0.90
Employed – Pursuing Graduate Degree 535 480 1.6% 1.4% -10.3% 8.6% 0.52 0.55
Unemployed – Start Date Deferred 290 268 0.8% 0.8% -7.6% 3.4% 0.58 0.58
Unemployed – Not Seeking 441 387 1.3% 1.1% -12.2% 8.4% 0.52 0.53
Unemployed – Seeking 2,610 2,348 7.6% 7.0% -10.0% 40.8% 0.43 0.42
Employment Status Unknown 437 444 1.3% 1.3% 1.6% -1.1% 0.66 0.71
Total Graduates 34,393 33,751 100.0% 100.0% -1.9% 100.0% 0.29 0.30
EMPLOYMENT TYPE NO. OF GRADS GRADS PCT. OF TOTAL PCT. CHANGE IN GRADS DISTRIBUTION OF CHANGE IN GRADS GINI COEFFICIENT
2017 2018 2017 2018 2018 2018 2017 2018
Solo 438 368 1.3% 1.1% -16.0% 10.9% 0.58 0.59
2-10 5,771 5,485 16.8% 16.3% -5.0% 44.5% 0.33 0.34
11-25 1,694 1,731 4.9% 5.1% 2.2% -5.8% 0.42 0.41
26-50 998 1,050 2.9% 3.1% 5.2% -8.1% 0.45 0.45
51-100 800 850 2.3% 2.5% 6.3% -7.8% 0.48 0.46
101-250 977 1,016 2.8% 3.0% 4.0% -6.1% 0.51 0.48
251-500 1,003 957 2.9% 2.8% -4.6% 7.2% 0.64 0.63
501-PLUS 4,611 4,777 13.4% 14.2% 3.6% -25.9% 0.77 0.76
Unknown 96 99 0.3% 0.3% 3.1% -0.5% 0.85 0.87
Business Industry 4,149 3,841 12.1% 11.4% -7.4% 48.0% 0.36 0.36
Government 4,132 4,101 12.0% 12.2% -0.8% 4.8% 0.32 0.33
Public Interest 1,618 1,679 4.7% 5.0% 3.8% -9.5% 0.48 0.48
Federal Clerkship 1,171 1,190 3.4% 3.5% 1.6% -3.0% 0.69 0.69
State/Local Clerkship 2,048 2,130 6.0% 6.3% 4.0% -12.8% 0.58 0.58
Other Clerkship 25 27 0.1% 0.1% 8.0% -0.3% 0.92 0.95
Education 481 462 1.4% 1.4% -4.0% 3.0% 0.48 0.52
Unknown Employer Type 66 70 0.2% 0.2% 6.1% -0.6% 0.91 0.90
Total Employed by Type 30,078 29,833 87.5% 88.4% -0.8% 38.2% 0.31 0.31

In ’18, there were 642 fewer graduates than in 2017, a decline of 1.9 percent. By comparison, last year I reported a drop of 6.1 percent. Because the change in graduates is mild this year it’s not so easy to pick apart the data to identify clear trends. Nevertheless, the three biggest employment statuses contributing to the decline were: Unemployed – Seeking (40.8%), Employed – Professional Position (15.6%), and Employed – Law School (13.9%). The total here is 70.2 percent.

Changes among the employment types accounted for just 38.2 percent of the 642 fewer graduates, and the categories are quite polarized. Business Industry (+48%), 2-10-lawyer practices (+44.5%), State/Local Clerkship (-12.8%), and 501-plus-lawyer firms (-25.9%). That is to say, Business Industry jobs fell and clerkships rose, etcetera.

Here’s a link to my discussion of what Gini coefficients mean. They vary little year by year, so there’s not much of a reason to discuss them beyond the disgustingly out-of-reach federal clerkships.

Editorial: This year’s employment report is the first in a while that was a bit muddy because the graduate crash is leveling off. Still, it appears more grads were able to find jobs, those jobs were better overall, and law-firm jobs are shifting away from smaller practices to much larger ones. These are good trends in principle. Mostly though, I would hesitate to read too much into an employment report that differs so little from last year’s.

Similar editions of this post from prior years can be found here:

W&S Lawyer Employment Rises in 2018, Incomes Flat

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) usually completes its updates of its many measures of occupational employment for the previous year by April. Data for 2018 are now available, allowing a comprehensive summary of lawyer employment for that year. For detailed discussion of what the BLS datasets are and how they address lawyer employment, I recommend the lawyer overproduction page [updated!].

For context, according to the Current Population Survey (CPS), the number of people who reported working as lawyers in 2018 grew 5 percent to 1,199,000 (+62,000 people). The CPS also estimated 853,000 people working as lawyers on a wage or salary basis, a 9 percent rise from the previous year (+72,000 lawyers). By contrast, the more accurate Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program found that the number of wage-and-salary lawyers grew by 2 percent last year to 642,750 (+14,380 jobs). The number of employee lawyers in the legal sector also grew by 2 percent to 397,620 (+8,950).

Employee lawyers’ incomes were pretty much flat in 2018. The OES showed a -1 percent median hourly wage decline after adjusting for inflation, but the CPS registered no real change at all. Going by the OES, the last peak for lawyers’ earnings was 2009 (~$125,000 annually); incomes are about 9 percent lower (-$10,940) in real dollars since then. Here is an annualized dispersion.

These lawyer employment and income measures are not strong bellwethers for the value of legal education because they include many established lawyers and don’t measure recent graduate outcomes particularly well, especially those of graduates who do not promptly start careers in law. Readers seeking insight into that topic are instead advised to look at my criteria for predicting improvements in law graduate outcomes and the lawyer production page for a clear discussion of the BLS’s Employment Projections program.

**********

Prior editions of this post:

17 Law Schools Didn’t Report Graduate Debt to U.S. News (’18)

Each year U.S. News & World Report lists law schools by the average indebtedness of their graduates. Importantly, the figures exclude accrued interest, which can be quite considerable. However, these numbers are probably the best estimate of the cost of attendance at a particular law school presented in a comparable form. The ABA does not publicize graduate debt in the 509 information reports, making U.S. News an unfortunately necessary source.

Here’s the debt table, ranked by the highest average debt of the most recent graduating class. A recurring problem in U.S. News’ debt data is law schools that misreport their graduating students’ annual debt as opposed to their cumulative debt, which is what the magazine asks for. Thus, I include last year’s numbers and the percent change to draw attention to wide swings and encourage ridicule of law schools that cannot follow basic survey directions, but I welcome corrections. Out of compassion, I omit the three law schools in Puerto Rico.

(more…)

2017: Full-Time Law Students Paying Full Tuition *Rises* By 0.4 Percentage Points

Discussions of law-school costs are incomplete if they do not account for discounts some students receive, usually merit scholarships paid for by their full-tuition-paying classmates. To analyze the phenomenon of discounting, I focus on the ABA’s 509 information reports’ scholarship data. This information lags the academic year by one year, so as of the 2018-19 academic year, we now have data on 2017-18.

At the average law school not in Puerto Rico in 2017, the proportion of full-time students paying full tuition rose by 0.4 percentage points from 25.4 percent to 25.8 percent. At the median law school less than one quarter of students pay full tuition.

The proportion of students paying full tuition has fallen considerably over the years. At the turn of the century, more than half of students paid full cost; now about a quarter do.

At private law schools, which are easier to analyze because they don’t price discriminate in favor of resident students, the average number of students receiving grants ranging between half and full tuition again exceeds the number paying full tuition. Many more receive a grant worth less-than-half tuition, though their numbers are diminishing.

 

One advantage of knowing how many full-time students pay full tuition is that we can estimate the total revenue they generate for private law schools, except Brigham Young University, which charges LDS students less.

Since 2011, the peak year, inflation-adjusted revenue from full-tuition-paying full-time students has fallen 53 percent. Since 2001, the last year for which data are available, the drop is 32 percent. In 2017, the median private law school’s full-tuition revenue was $4.3 million, down from $12.8 million in 2011 but up 7 percent since 2016. In 2001, the median was $9.5 million. This is quite a decline.

So how substantially are private law schools discounting? The best way to answer that question is by using the sticker price at private law schools as the independent variable, and treating as the dependent variable their tuition after subtracting their median grant (median-discounted tuition “MDT”). First I divide private law schools into full tuition quintiles and give their mean averages. Then I take mean of the MDTs within each quintile.

We find that while full tuition inexorably climbs upward and disperses, the MDTs are trending downward and together, indicating significant discounting. Notably, the MDT at the most expensive law schools is about as much as full tuition at the cheapest private law schools.

That’s all for now; on to the shaming and ridiculing.

Raspberries: I’m giving out three raspberries to law schools for clearly misreporting scholarship data to the ABA:

  • Number 1 goes to Mitchell|Hamline for reporting 482 full-time students receiving scholarships out of … 473 full time students. Those -9 full-time students receiving breaks to their tuition must be truly exceptional. I should add that Mitchell|Hamline made the same mistake last year with only one full-time law student receiving a grant or scholarship in excess of its full-time enrollment. According to U.S. News it had 481 full-time students, which is still one short.
  • The second raspberry goes to Texas Southern for not reporting any median grant information. As a public law school it luckily doesn’t affect any of the above calculations, but it’s still lazy misreporting by a law school.
  • Finally, Regent also has 196 out of 195 full-time students receiving a grant or scholarship, for a truly blessed -1 full-time student. U.S. News has it at 218 for last year.

Honorary mention goes to the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions for the Bar for discontinuing reporting full-time and part-time student enrollment each year. Leaving it to the grant and scholarship data means that there isn’t a good way to double-check law schools’ errors and discontinues a dataset it’s reliably collected for decades.

Information on this topic from previous years:

2018: Full-Time Private Law-School Tuition Up 3.1 Percent

Despite arbitrary data meddling by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and significant misreporting by law schools, I will estimate changes in annual (as in what people care about and what the ABA no longer collects) full-time law-school tuition for 2018. The appendix at the end of the post will summarize how I arrived at my tuition figures. However, I’m still disgusted by how the law schools and the ABA have handled this year’s data collection. On with the show:

Full-time tuition costs at private law schools not in Puerto Rico rose an average 3.1 percent before adjusting for inflation. The rate is about the same as last year’s increase, but it’s still well below the typical 5 percent rate before the Great Recession. For seven years now, the average increase has been below 4 percent. I focus on private law-school tuition because public law schools receive varying degrees of state subsidies, so they do not reflect the already distorted legal-education market’s prices.

Here’s what the inflation-adjusted dispersion of full-time private and full-time public (residential) tuition looks like going back to 1996:

For the last few years I’ve been eyeballing the 25th-percentile public law school’s residential tuition to see if it will rise above the annual Stafford Loan limit of $20,500. In 2018 it fell not even $200 shy of that symbolic line of unaffordability. By my estimates, 16 out of 117 private law schools charge more than $60,000. Ever the leader, Columbia was $84 short of charging $70,000. Next year it will likely have raised its costs by $20,000 in ten years.

In 2018, the median private law school charged $48,166 (DePaul); the mean was $48,383 (between John Marshall (Chicago) and Vermont).

(more…)

It’s 2019. Where’s My ‘Hyperinflationary Great Depression’?

[The following post first appeared on this site on January 1, 2012. What it said then still applies today, mutatis mutandis. Thanks for reading the blog and have a prosperous 2019!]

Behold, the curse of a long memory. Last January [2011], Google Alerts sent me an e-mail informing me that the National Inflation Association (“Preparing Americans for Hyperinflation”) issued a press release predicting that the higher ed bubble was “set to burst beginning in mid-2011. This bursting bubble will have effects that are even more far-reaching than the bursting of the Real Estate bubble in 2006.” The NIA press release then digressed into legal education (I’m guessing they’d just read David Segal’s first NYT piece a few days earlier), how evil lawyers are, how they produce nothing for society, and how 60 percent of the Senate and 37 percent of the House are lawyers who rig the economy to make jobs for lawyers. It editorializes:

“While everybody went to school to become a lawyer [really?], nobody went to school to become a farmer because Americans didn’t see any money in farming. With prices of nearly all agricultural commodities soaring through the roof in 2010 and with NIA expecting this trend to continue throughout 2011, the few new farmers out there are going to become rich while lawyers are standing at street corners with cups begging for money.”

The NIA would’ve been more helpful if it explained how lawyers could be a drain on society yet remain vulnerable to market forces. Also, one would think unemployed lawyers would try to find non-lawyer jobs instead of begging, but I think it’s important to note that agricultural prices weren’t “soaring through the roof” in 2010. They were growing, yes, but although the NIA was right that they continued to do so in 2011, (a) it’s stalled recently, and (b) they’re no worse than they were in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Oh well. The NIA sternly concluded:

“We must work hard to educate America to the truth if our country is going to have the wherewithal to survive the upcoming bursting college bubble and Hyperinflationary Great Depression.”

Whoa.

I can’t say I’m quite as disappointed as the NIA undoubtedly is that we’re not seeing much inflation these days, and in mid-2011 I didn’t see many colleges cutting their tuition, laying off faculty, closing programs, or trying to retrench themselves. I also remain unconvinced that $1 trillion in student debt can be worse than $8 trillion in mortgage debt. True, student debt is not dischargeable (unlike mortgage deficiencies) absent a showing of an undue hardship, and it’s hampering the recovery and ruining lives, but it’s not worse in quantity than the housing bubble. As for the NIA’s paranoid ranting about lawyers, all economic evidence I’ve seen indicates that legal services have all but stagnated for much of the last two decades. Apparently, those 60 percent of lawyer-senators aren’t very good at creating work for themselves. I suppose the NIA should express appreciation.

Anyway, if anything, inflation would be a boon to underwater homeowners and student debtors because it erodes the real value of their debts, which grew significantly in the 2000s. Here’s household debt to GDP:

Importantly, I’m no macroeconomist but I’ve never heard of a “hyperinflationary depression.” The terms contradict each other. Depressions occur when people take on excessive debt and begin paying it down simultaneously instead of spending money on other things. This is deflationary because new credit isn’t being created, even by the government. By contrast, hyperinflation has only occurred in unusual circumstances, like when a government owes debts to foreigners in a different currency. Weimar Germany, for example, owed gold-dominated war reparations to the Allied powers, and to purchase the gold, it printed money, causing hyperinflation. Zimbabwe isn’t a good comparison either because it’s a small, HIV-ridden landlocked state with an undiversified, oligopolistic agrarian economy while the U.S. is a wealthy, continent-spanning super-state.

As for inflation fears generally, maybe it’s the fact that I have no memory of high inflation, but why isn’t there a “National Personal Income Association” (NPIA) that regularly celebrates increases in Americans’ per capita personal income?

“Per capita personal income has quadrupled since 1980! Prices didn’t even triple! Hooray! We’re rich! Fiat currency forever and ever! ‘You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold!'”

I’m sure the NPIA wouldn’t’ve been too thrilled with 2008-09, but personal income is increasing again. The problem has just been that over the decades those gains haven’t been distributed equally. This isn’t a problem of inflation but one of wages and taxation.

Intuition tells me the NIA won’t spend early 2012 carefully discussing why the higher ed bubble didn’t burst in mid-2011 as it predicted, nor will it take the time to explain why Americans—many of whom are net debtors—should be concerned about inflation. Instead it will prophecy even more hyperinflation later. But here’s hoping the National Inflation Association won’t provide me entertainment come January 1, 2013. Such is the curse of a long memory.