Month: June 2010

True Links–NY State Bar Wakens to the Legal Professsion’s Problems

(1)  Priyanka Singh, “Legal benefits: Job options, Fat Salaries Draw Students to Law.”

Sound crazy?  When I read the title, I thought I was in for some fun.  Turns out I was wrong, psyche!  It’s talking about India, which is a fast-growing economy that could conceivably suffer from a legal services shortage.  Notice, though, that India has an undergraduate law degree rather than a three-year India Bar Association (if it exists)-accredited degree.  Kinda amusing how different countries do things differently.

(2)  Victor Li, “NY State Bar to Consider, Propose Changes to Legal Profession.”

Stephen Younger, New York State Bar Association President, is creating a task force to reform the legal profession before we witness another 2009.  Younger appears to have a better pulse on what’s going on than the ABA.  In the June 2010 NYSBA Journal, he writes, “Since April 2008, the legal sector has lost more than 50,000 jobs…At the same time that job opportunities for law school graduates diminished, tuition rates and student loan debt loads rose.  It will clearly take time for us to get our profession back on its feet.” (“President’s Message” 5).  Hopefully the NYSBA will see the tuition bubble and act on it.  I wonder whether President Younger is a bubbler or a bottlenecker.  Until then, I say, “Your skills will be put to the test.”


The Charge of the Juris Doctor Brigade, Part III: Back from the Mouth of Hell

Did I say I’d get back to doodling?  I lied.  Here’s one more table.  Compare it to Table 6 in the previous post.

Table 7: Gross State Product (2009)/State’s ABA Students, incl. part-time (more…)

Link Creatures–Uniform Bar Exams

Joe Forward, “States consider Uniform Bar Exam to boost cross-border employment opportunities

Brief thoughts:

(1) A Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), reduces legal labor market entry costs, which is good for everyone (except people who write state bar exams, but they’re the inefficiency in the system so I don’t care).

(2) These paragraphs caught my eye:

At Marquette University Law School, assistant dean for career planning Paul Katzman said a UBE would greatly facilitate flexibility in searching for a job, but cautioned that such facilitation could increase competition for jobs in destinations popular for lawyers. [My emphasis]

As a Marquette grad, I know Dean Katzman.  Nice guy.  His comment tells us that we should expect some states to be destination states and some to be exodus states when it comes to national law student distribution, and I’m still working on that dataset.

The majority of our graduates prefer to remain in Wisconsin and for those that are motivated to go outside the state … the investment in terms of money and time devoted to exam preparation is a deterrent unless a position has already been secured out-of-state,” said Katzman, who from a career planning perspective, welcomes a UBE. [My emphasis]

Speaking of the dataset, it’ll be interesting to compare Wisconsin’s law student ratio to state population to others’ if one of its two law schools tends to serve instate needs.  I can’t speak for Madison’s graduates, but Wisconsin appears to be a neutral state rather than a destination or exodus one.  I should have the data published by next week.

The Charge of the Juris Doctor Brigade, Part I: Storm’d at with Shot and Shell

Law schools to the right of them,

Law schools to the left of them,

Law schools in front of them

Volleyed and thunder’d


During the Great Recession and the pre-housing bubble one, no law schools have closed nor have any reduced their faculties.  Because of their immunity to economic downturns it is worthwhile to now ask if there are too many law schools.  Discussion of the number cannot be separated from the number of lawyers currently in the market, but I’ll work on it anyway.  When I first wrote about the Juris Doctor’s alleged flexibility, I crafted a pool analogy, describing it so, “Imagine you’re filling a small pool with a garden hose.  The pool is the legal profession; the hose-water is new JDs being added to it.”  Adding to that analogy, the hose itself is the legal education system, specifically the number of law schools.[1] Although calculating this relationship is useful, merely looking at the hose’s rate can tell us what to expect to happen to the pool irrespective of its water level.  True, there may be areas deficient of legal services (I’m imagining the pool sitting on an incline where some parts overflow while others aren’t full), but no one seriously believes there are zero-zones.  Certainly not for long.

The federal system makes it possible to see if some regions are filling quicker than others.  Finding legal dry spots will be a goal for this blog.  You can even think of it as another ranking system to see which legal markets are easiest to enter. (more…)

Speaking in Links–Law School Tuition Compared to Gambling

Two links from our friends at the ABA Journal.

(1)  Martha Neil, “As Summer Classes Plummet 80% at Some BigLaw Firms, Clients Balk at Paying for Law Student Work

In the buyer’s market for legal services, law students, and soon I predict new lawyers, will not receive the stratospheric salaries of the 90s and 00s.  As legal education becomes more expensive the legal profession will be less lucrative.  Disappearing six-figure salaries will make it even less so.

(2)  Stephanie Francis Ward, “Lowering the Stakes: How Law Schools Can Help Next Gen Lawyers Take Gamble Out of Heavy Tuition(more…)

Bottleneck Attack!

I dove right in to drawing the connection b’ween the number of law schools and the tuition bubble.  Then I realized that I really hadn’t sufficiently distinguished bubbles from bottlenecks and got bogged down.  I apologize for delaying your numbers-crunched, but fumbling through this post helped me crystallize my opinions on this project.

Bottleneck and bubble both try to explain rising law school tuition.  They accept cost-benefit analyses of legal education’s value (e.g. Schlunk), though bottleneckers emphasize non-monetary benefits to those earning below the break-even starting salary.  The term “bottleneck” refers to the upfront costs of entering the legal labor market that eventually pay off.  I call the argument for those who do not accept cost-benefit analyses “denial.”

Why is the bottleneck problem important?  The bottleneck is the only sophisticated argument opposing this blog’s premise, which is why I addressed it in my first substantive postThe debate is between time and space.  The bottlenecker believes in time law school can pay off, just with a few tweaks to the system; the bubbler believes that the legal education system’s size must be reduced to match the legal market’s needs before legal education becomes valuable again.

The bottleneck summarized: (more…)