The News-Gazette Has Not Heard of the Great Recession

Julie Wurth, “Global recession, glut of attorneys blamed for drop,” the News-Gazette

Most articles that discuss law school application cycles usually start by saying that applicants surged to law school in 2008, even though they didn’t compared to 2004. The News-Gazette‘s article, by contrast does a better job until it gets to the last half of this paragraph:

“The number of applicants shot up in 2002 and 2003 and topped 100,000 in 2004, then dropped 4.8 percent in 2005 and 7.4 percent in 2006. The assumption was the market was simply correcting, but the numbers continued to slide through 2008 as the recession hit full force, Margolis said. The number rose again temporarily in 2009, as the economy appeared to improve, but fell by 10.7 percent in 2011 after firms began to lay off lawyers and cut back on hiring.” [Emphasis LSTB]

The economy appeared to improve in 2009?

Take a good look at those last four years. The civilian employment-population ratio dropped continuously, and it’s leveled off so far in 2012. If you can see an “apparent improvement” in 2009, you have gifted eyesight.

Saying a nonexistent improvement to the economy caused the applicant uptick is a strange claim. Normally we find that law school applications are countercyclical—as the first half of the quote suggests—but the News-Gazette denies that. Why would fewer people than we’d expect apply to law school than in previous recessions? Maybe it’s because someone like Scott Bullock warned them not to, but attributing success to scambloggers is not a hypothesis the LSAC isn’t going to volunteer to the News-Gazette.

Think of the workers tomorrow.

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