Annie Lowrey, “Law of Averages,” in Slate
Lowery credits scambloggers for the drop in law school applications. That’s impressive. She makes some points I disagree with:
[F]alling demand for legal services is the ultimate root of the problem.
Actually, the legal sector matured in the early 1990s, and while it contracted by about 20% from 2005 to 2009, the employment outlook is permanently crippled. At some point, I’d like to figure out how that 20% translates to employed lawyers. Anyway, Lowery is right to point to automation and inefficient business models as another factor.
Once the conventional wisdom has spotted a bubble—whether in housing or gold or anything else—it tends to burst. That will come as cold comfort to the thousands of young lawyers struggling to pay their debts. But it may be something to consider for anyone willing to pay the law school of her choice six figures to extend her academic career for another three years. Maybe by then the recovery will actually be genuine.
This quote reminds me of Stephen M’s account of a law school dean who gave a lecture on the existence of a “law school bubble,” and it amused me that the dean didn’t believe it was a problem. Lowrey, for her part, missed that tuition is still rising at most law schools. A 10% decline in applications is only a drop in the bucket. I get the impression she thinks only a few bad apple law schools will have to close and all the others will have to cut enrollments by, like, 20%. When there’ll only be 98,500 new jobs for lawyers between 2008 and 2018, it’s going to look a whole lot worse for the law schools.