Month: May 2010

Remain in Links

Three Memorial Day morsels fresh from the grill:

(1)  Rochelle Olson, “Job Market Leaves New Lawyers far from Easy Street

The Minneapolis Star Tribune notes the underemployment plights of a handful of recent law grads.  One is even fluent in multiple foreign languages, which I thought was a shoe-in qualification.  Only temp work is available for them at best.

Related to my previous post: towards the end, University of Minnesota Law School dean, David Wippmann, blames tuition increases on the state for reducing public funding of higher education.  He obviously doesn’t see a legal education bubble because he should be asking why law school is so expensive relative to its outcomes to begin with.  I also disagree with State Supreme Court Justice Anderson’s characterization of the State’s educational priorities: no one is starving the beast and then blaming it for failing; rather, people are failing to see the beast gorging itself unsustainably.  On the contrary, Minnesotans should be happy their tax dollars aren’t being funneled into an asset bubble.

Minnesota is a special case I’ll return to later.


The Big Bubble Battle (Bart I): Enter the University

Hey, it says AMATEURLY Illustrated

Are we dealing with a mere (!) law school tuition bubble or an overall education bubble?  This question is important because people try to wait out recessions by going back to school.  Sounds like a reasonable plan right?  Well, no.  This is something that’s always bugged me about neoliberalism: theoretically, when people are thrown out of work, the solution is to reeducate the workers and they’ll get new jobs in the recovering economy.  In practice, there’s no reason to believe that jobs that vanished during a recession will be replaced with jobs for which the workers are training.  Unless the government boldly decides to plan the post-recession economy (good luck seeing that with Uncle Sam), we could just as easily see many people leave universities with useless degrees and more debt.  In these circumstances, we’d predict an education bubble, yet universities tell us they’re in a pinch.  What the buh?

If there were a higher education bubble, we would see two things: (1) rising tuition across the board, and (2) expanding programs.  I’ll lay out the situation for public and private institutions. (more…)

More Links About Buildings and Food–The Georgetown Five

I have two:

(1) NPR interviewed five Georgetown law graduates who’re finding their way in the 2010 legal market.

  • The economy is growing, yet these are their results: one is going to work for a small federal agency, one is running for office in Maine, one is deferred for a year for a volunteer position, one is starting a solo practice, and the fifth is joining a friend’s practice.
  • They compare their opportunities to those of lesser-ranked law schools’ graduates over the last decade.
  • While they are optimistic the big firms will rebound, they are certain that large firms will recruit from classes behind them and that starting salaries will be lower.
  • They are also optimistic that they’ll still have decent careers.
  • Finally, none of them thought the economy would be so bad when they applied.

My thoughts: (more…)

The Juris Doctor Is Your New Bass-O-Matic

Now With 10 Interchangeable Rotors and 1001 Ways to Harness Bass!

In the last post, I pointed out that the law school tuition bubble is technically a juris doctor bubble, the distinction referring to the asset that is being overvalued and not the loans taken to acquire that asset.  For instance the previous economic bubble was a housing bubble (not a mortgage bubble) because real estate was the overvalued asset.[i] Knowing this, (a) what a J.D. does, (b) its academic requirements, (c) how long it takes to obtain one, and (d) its cost are more central to the bubble than related issues like attorney oversupply, which I’ll not shy away from.  The bubble is in the education system, but if J.D.’s were readily useful beyond legal practice, easily obtained, or dirt cheap, then the problem would be different or nonexistent.

These four factors interrelate, but bear with me as I focus on the first.

I’ve heard people say, “I’m going to get an MBA.”  I’ve never heard someone say, “I’m going to get a J.D.” or, “I’m getting a law degree.”  If you’ve experienced otherwise, feel free to comment.  In fact, I don’t think I even heard a law degree called a J.D. until fairly late in life, and I hadn’t heard of a L.LM. until well into my 2L year.  I think the semantics here is important: People who go to professional school talk about the school or the profession, not about its degree.  Instead, I’ve heard, “I want to go to law school,” or, “I want to become a lawyer.”  As a result, we can agree a J.D. is a professional degree whose purpose is legal practice.  Doesn’t sound so revealing, huh? (more…)

Bottleneck or Bubble?

Here’s your summer reading list on the increasing cost of legal education.  I arranged it in chronological order beginning in late 2009.  Indented pieces are responses to the original.

Costs rising, two explanations exist: bottleneck or bubble.  I consider a bottleneck to mean that a legal education is either a breakeven or beneficial investment, albeit a big one.  Fortunately for this blog, only Jack Crittenden comes close to arguing this.  He’ll be dealt with later.  By contrast, a bubble in legal education (strictly speaking this is a “Juris Doctor bubble” not a law school tuition bubble) requires demonstrating insufficient demand for JDs in the actual post-law school market.


The First Post Is Dedicated to…

Law Students.

Yeah, you read right.

You finished your finals, submitted your legal writing memos, and a third of you’ve even picked up your cap ‘n’ gowns.

I have one more assignment for you: Pull a beer (or non-alcoholic beverage, if you don’t drink) from your fridge and dance to the Velvet Underground’s “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’.”  Here’s a passable Internet cover, though I recommend you listen to the original.  Lynyrd Skynyrd wished “Sweet Home Alabama” was as good as this.

Return to this space later and learn about the mismanagement of the legal industry.  Then tell your 0L friends.

Ain’t got nuthin’ at all.