Month: May 2014

Someone Needs to Teach the NYT How to Use the Internet

…Okay, not the Internet (I hope), just FRED, but it’s an unfortunate performance by David Leonhardt, who was the star of an outing earlier this week.

In “The Jobless Rate for Community-College Graduates Is Also Low,” he teaches us:

The federal government’s main educational-attainment categories are fairly blunt. In particular, the “some college” category includes a wide array of people: Those who have dropped out of college without earning any degree, those who have earned a two-year degree meant to lead directly to a job (such as in nursing) and those who have earned an academic two-year degree that is often a first step toward a bachelor’s degree.

[T]he Bureau of Labor Statistics does distinguish among the different versions of “some college.” (It would be even better if the bureau made this data easily available to the public.)

I get the feeling Leonhardt does not use government data much. For one, I’ve never seen “some college” include associate’s degrees in any dataset. For another, the data series Leonhardt refers to are in fact easily available to the public and can be found on FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data).

Here’s Leonhardt’s chart:

Unemployment Rates by Educational Attainment

Here’s my version from FRED (just “some college” and “associate degrees” types):


(Click to view source data)

See? Now we can replace him with a robot?

Okay, I’m just being a meanie. Leonhardt’s ignorance is an honest mistake and I’m sure if he spent a couple weekends learning how to use FRED he wouldn’t be wasting his readers’ time telling them information is unavailable when it is. However, his ignorance is a thin end of a wedge. It may seem trivial, but FRED represents one of the great advances of this decade: easy access to government information. Instead of trying to find Brazil’s GDP in an encyclopedia, one can look on Fred or the IMF’s or World Bank’s Web site. FRED doesn’t have all datasets yet, but journalists should be turning to it first when researching government data. I’m sure they will be within a decade, but ones like Leonhardt really need to familiarize themselves with it.

But since we’re on the topic of the unemployment of the educated, I thought I’d take another crack at it. Leonhardt compares unemployment rates by education to conclude that, as the title of his article suggests, two-year colleges are a good bet too—so long as students get the degrees.

Comparing these unemployment rates doesn’t sit well with me because they all use different denominators. The high unemployment rate for those who have less than a high school diploma might be less significant if there aren’t that many non-high-schoolers in the labor force. Likewise, a low unemployment rate for college graduates might be problematic if there’s a large number of them. So, using FRED, I gathered the unemployment level (not the rate) by education for the 25 to 34 age bracket (yes, FRED now has that), and I decided to do a cross-sectional analysis of the unemployed by their educational attainment.

The data only go back to 2000, but here you are:

Cross-Section of Unemployment Level by Education

The results are slight but the trends are clear: The educational attainment of the young unemployed is rising. As of last April, for the first time, half of them had at least some college education. In May 2007, about 22 percent of the young unemployed had an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree; now it’s 28 percent. Meanwhile the percent of the unemployed who haven’t finished high school, whose 11.5 percent unemployment rate typically alarms Leonhardt and his peers, has fallen from 24 percent to 15 percent of the total.

You might be tempted to say that the unemployment level doesn’t include people who drop out of the labor force. True, but (a) that’s not Leonhardt’s argument, and (b) the labor-force dropouts might be more educated too. Go ahead, prove me wrong.

The point is, if Leonhardt et al. are right about how crucial education is, then we would expect the proportion of educated unemployed to be declining. On the contrary, we see that as we educate more people, it just substitutes the uneducated unemployed with the educated. It calls into question the mantra that “college graduates are less likely to be unemployed.”


UPDATE: Allow me to clarify my thoughts here. Nothing I’ve written here should be interpreted as saying that, for example, people shouldn’t finish high school because they’re a smaller proportion of the unemployed. The unemployment rate by education does matter for the obvious reasons we read about, like employers not wanting to hire uneducated people. However, my point is to draw attention to the evidence that if the more education people attain, the better-educated the unemployed become. Irrespective of the unemployment rate by education, this phenomenon supports the signaling theory because we’d expect the unemployed to be less educated over time.

Law School Applicant Collapse: Japan Edition

Readers might recall last month when UC-Irvine’s law school defenders took to The New York Times‘ op-ed pages and told us that America’s legal education is so amazing that even Japan was emulating it. Well, The Yomiuri Shinbun tells us how that experiment turned out:

Number of Law School Applicants (Japan)

Ouch. In 2007, law schools received more than 40,000 applicants, but this year they’ve managed to haul in 11,450. Most of the applicant collapse is due to news getting out about graduates’ low bar passage rates. And all this without any scamblogs! (to my knowledge)

Apparently Japan created a “preliminary test” in 2011 as an alternative to law school, and this year it beat out regular schooling to the alarm of some officials who now want to limit the number of people who can take the test. Good luck with that. It’s time to admit the Americanization of legal education didn’t work and shut the schools down.

When Will Robots Replace Journalists Urging Everyone to Go to College?

…Is the question that crossed my mind reading David Leonhardt’s, “Is College Worth It? Clearly, New Data Say,” for The New York Times.

The title alone tells you exactly how this article will play out. The “new data” will specify the returns to higher education for the “average college graduate,” who is, apparently, everyone who goes to college. There will be some quotes from notable college-for-all economists who haven’t left campus for the real world in ages. There will then be liberal-esque dismissal of student loan debt and how tough it is for college grads to find good jobs. The article will close with a bunch of hail-Mary pseudo-arguments about the consequences of not sending everyone to college. There might be a line about naughty for-profits.

Leonhardt’s article fits just about all the points.

Americans with four-year college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree.

There’s your “average” earnings premium.

“We have too few college graduates,” says David Autor, an M.I.T. economist, who was not involved in the Economic Policy Institute’s analysis.

There’s your cloistered economist.

But what about all those alarming stories you hear about indebted, jobless college graduates?

The anecdotes may be real, yet the conventional wisdom often exaggerates the problem. Among four-year college graduates who took out loans, average debt is about $25,000, a sum that is a tiny fraction of the economic benefits of college. (My own student debt, as it happens, was almost identical to this figure, in inflation-adjusted terms.)

Student debt excuses, check. They aren’t a problem because someday grads will have the college job that’ll enable them to pay them off. Debtors need to have faith, but don’t worry about David Leonhardt, he’ll do just fine because he’s just as average as you are with his job at the NYT.

Those who question the value of college tend to be those with the luxury of knowing their own children will be able to attend it.

As the economy becomes more technologically complex, the amount of education that people need will rise. At some point, 15 years or 17 years of education will make more sense as a universal goal.

And there’re your hail-Marys. (I’d love to know Leonhardt’s source for the first one.)

Nothing on the perfidious for-profits, but Leonhardt’s defensiveness is entertaining.

It’s important to emphasize these shortfalls because public discussion today — for which we in the news media deserve some responsibility — often focuses on the undeniable fact that a bachelor’s degree does not guarantee success. But of course it doesn’t. Nothing guarantees success, especially after 15 years of disappointing economic growth and rising inequality.

In other words, if college doesn’t pay off, don’t expect David Leonhardt to solemnly assess the situation. He’ll just blame “inequality” instead.

If NYT articles on higher education are going to be so one-sided and filled with unsubstantiated claims about its critics, why can’t we just replace their authors with robots?

Law School Salary Outcomes in One Uninfographic

More than three years ago, Frank the Underemployed Professional commented:

It’s too bad that there isn’t a good way to numerically quantify the monetary value of having a law degree. If we could do that and plot it over time, I’m sure it would decrease precipitously as the cost of tuition increases.

I thought of Frank when I put together a time-series chart of law graduate earnings for my last American Lawyer piece. It was really only one step away from being a comparison between law school costs and earnings outcomes. So after a little tinkering I think I can give as close an answer as anyone’s going to get.

Behold, on this day I give unto thee the law school outcomes “uninfographic”:

Law School Uninfographic
(Click to Enlarge)

Why an uninfographic? Because it tells so much yet requires even more explanation. The data come from three sources: the National Association for Law Placement’s (NALP’s) Employment Report and Salary Survey (ERSS) (many older years courtesy of moldy paper editions of the Official Guide), the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, and the Census Bureau’s Person Income Tables. I’ll go through each of these sources.


NALP’s ERSS tracks law graduates’ employment status outcomes, their job types, and their median salaries if they work full-time. It’s been doing this for nearly thirty years, but I’ve only managed to find data going back to 1991.

The salary data are not drawn from a random sample, and for most employment statuses only a minority of graduates report salaries. The median salary is very likely well above what the median graduate earns unless non-reporters and those in part-time positions are somehow earning more than grads employed full-time. Assuming this isn’t the case, the overall median figures shown here are roughly in the top 20-25 percent of total graduates between 2007 and 2012. Moreover, as demand for lawyers slackens, the median becomes even less representative of the class, a phenomenon I suspect is true for the 1990s legal sector recession. Oh, and did I mention that the median salary is also smack dab in the middle of a bimodal distribution?

What follows is a breakdown of each employment status by the range of graduates reporting salaries, the range of full-time workers in that status category, and the range of total workers in that employment status. Again, these ranges go from 2007-2012.

Employed Full-Time (black with circles):

  • 18,400-23,300 full-time salaries
  • 31,100-34,800 full-time workers
  • 35,700-37,500 total
  • 43,500-46,400 graduates

Bar Passage Required (blue with diamonds):

  • 16,000-21,300 full-time salaries
  • 24,900-30,000 full-time workers
  • 27,200-31,100 total

JD Advantage (red with squares):

  • 1,100-2,200 full-time salaries
  • 2,500-4,700 full-time workers
  • 3,100-5,900 total

Other Professional (green with triangles):

  • 670-780 full-time salaries
  • 1,700-1,800 full-time workers
  • 2,000-2,300 total

Non-Professional (purple with x’s):

  • 40-80 full-time salaries
  • 280-330 full-time workers
  • 530-810 total

Not Working (FYI):

  • 900-1,200 Advanced Degrees
  • 1,700-4,700 Seeking Employment
  • 700-1,300 Not Seeking Employment

Not Reporting (FYI):

  • 2,000-3,200 Not Reporting


The ABA Section of Legal Education collects graduate debt data from each law school (black with crosses for public law schools, black with dashes for private law schools), which excludes accrued interest. It then averages these without weighting them by the number of graduates with debt per school. Part of the rapid rise in law school debt is due to some law schools misreporting their 3Ls’ disbursed debts rather than their graduates’ total debts. The larger factor, I believe, is students’ decisions to rely more on Grad PLUS loans, which law students can use for living expenses as well as tuition not covered by Stafford loans.

I thought about using median law school tuition instead of graduate debt but decided against it. On the one hand, tuition data go back further and they show just how much more expensive public law schools have become. On the other hand, mean debt figures include tuition discounts, private loans, and living expenses.

Census Bureau

The Current Population Survey tracks full-time workers by education level attained and age, and it provides specific data on earnings of those who work full time, defined as those working 35 hours or more per week. Shown here is median earnings of full-time workers aged 25 to 34 with a bachelor’s degree (black with x’s). I included it to show a baseline alternative to law school. Unfortunately, it’s an age range and not a starting salary, so it’s not perfectly comparable to the NALP data, but at least it’s a “true” median and not the 75th to 80th percentile due to poor sampling like NALP’s.

Between 1994 and 2012, 73 to 78 percent of 25 to 34 year-olds with bachelor’s degrees who reported earnings worked full-time. Including people in that age range without earnings, it ranges from 65 to 71 percent.


1). Strikingly, law graduates in full-time, non-professional positions make less than the median full-time college graduate in the same age range. Even the 75th percentile full-time non-professional salary (not shown) is less than the median full-time college grad. This is a strong indicator that law grads who do not find good jobs quickly do not benefit much from going to law school. In any given year, roughly 20 percent of all graduates are in a non-professional position or less (i.e. unemployed or not reporting, which I don’t take to be a good outcome).

2). Many graduates in better-than-non-professional jobs earn less than the college median nonetheless. Of course, as we’ve learned from the After the JD research, there’s a lot of attrition for law grads in private practice, with some leaving law entirely for positions that don’t really need legal education. Others find themselves in smaller practices with reduced earnings. The turnover factor increases the likelihood that there are better alternatives to law school.

3). I’m sure I say this every other post, but the Grad PLUS Loan Program needs to die. Although some law grads may’ve benefitted from it instead of taking out private loans (or even skipping law school), its primary contribution to humanity is to bail out law schools by providing them with students who would have been unable to attend for want of money for living expenses and excess tuition. Those students now have much higher debt-to-income ratios and no real choice but to go on IBR, which is turning into a policy piñata. Even if you ignore the discussion of whether law schools absorb federal loans, I’m still astonished that to my knowledge no law school has ever discouraged students from taking out giant sums of money for living expenses.

4). Recent graduate full-time starting salaries have fallen to their mid-1990s level. Looking at the ABA data for 2013 grads’ employment outcomes, it doesn’t look like this summer’s edition of the ERSS will show much improvement. Anyone predicting recovery in demand for lawyers is invited to explain what mechanism will bring that about. It certainly won’t be household spending on legal services that’s for sure.

5). Due to the aforementioned bimodality of the NALP data, the 25th percentile full-time employed law graduate reporting a salary (not shown) was only $5,200 higher than the median full-time college grad in 2007.

By 2012, the gap had fallen to $668.

Assuming a hierarchy of earnings with full-time jobs over part-time jobs over non-reports over unemployment, the 25th percentile salary was the ceiling for roughly 60-66 percent of law graduates from 2007 to 2012. Even I don’t want to believe the outcomes can be that bad.

That’s all I’ve got to say on the subject for now.

So Much for That Student Loan Interest Rate Cut

Last year, Congress rejiggered student loan interest rates from legislatively fixed rates to fixed rates based on the 10-year Treasury note (1.81% at the time). The result was a pretty big cut last year. For undergraduates, the unsubsidized Stafford loan rate fell from 6.8% to 3.86% but the subsidized loan rate rose to 3.86%. For grad students, the unsubsidized Stafford loan rate fell from 6.8% to 5.41%, and Grad PLUS loans fell to 6.41% from 7.9%. Everyone said rates would spike and trap students who’d been gulled by the lower rates. I figured the fears were unfounded because there wasn’t any reason to believe interest rates would rise.

Well, everyone was right.

Last week the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau publicized its estimate of the new rates based on the most recent Treasury note auction (2.62%). They’re about half a percent lower than two years ago.

CFPB New Loan Rates


Back in mid-June, former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke indicated that the Federal Reserve would begin “tapering” its bond purchases, which sent interest rates up. Eyeballing the interest rate on 10-year notes, it looks like the taper comment cost student debtors a half percentage point in student loan interest, accounting for the bulk of the difference in rates between this year and last year. I might not be right, but you can blame him if you want.

Charles Lane Has Never Heard of the Federal Reserve

For some reason The Washington Post‘s Charles Lane is trying to compare Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century to Henry George’s Progress and Poverty. I haven’t read Piketty’s book—and don’t plan to—but I think it’s mostly hype. Piketty uses the neoclassical marginal product theory of income distribution, whose origins trace back to John Bates Clark’s 1899 treatise The Distribution of Wealth, to argue against “inequality.” It’s a strange turn of events: J.B. Clark’s goal was not to explain poverty but to eliminate land as a factor of production because he was a shill for the wealthy who hated Henry George and his single-tax followers. By fusing land with capital, Clark could argue two things: (1) that poverty wages were just desserts to workers because they were being paid what they contributed, and (2) that as “capital” increased, wages would rise too because, effectively, the land base was growing as well. And you thought trickle-down was bad!

Thus, Piketty is deploying a theory whose intended purpose was to rationalize poverty to cure it. Either someone (Piketty, Clark, myself) doesn’t understand the theory, its history, and its ethics, or someone (just Piketty or Clark—not me) is engaging in sophistry. Like, if you can validly use the same theory to argue opposite points, I swear I will switch to writing about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Returning to Lane, he’s not the only person who’s seen the buzz around Capital and has been reminded of George. The problem, though, is his treatment of George’s solution and Piketty’s utterly preposterous global wealth tax. Whereas abolishing deadweight taxes is politically feasible at the state level and doesn’t run afoul of moral issues of transferring one country’s surplus to others—a potential criticism of Piketty that I haven’t seen—a global wealth tax is the most quixotic response to poverty I’ve ever heard of. (If I didn’t know any better I’d think that Piketty was trying to pull a Trojan Horse on neoclassical economics.)

Lane writes:

Alas, Piketty’s global wealth tax and George’s single tax suffer from the same defect, and it’s not political impracticality … It’s the inherent difficulty of separating the productive, untaxed component of the return on land or capital from the unproductive, taxed part.

Clear in the pages of a treatise, the distinction is murkier in practice. The market price of a vacant lot can reflect potential productive uses, as well as the risk a buyer takes by betting on them. A similar analysis applies to the rate of return on capital.

Separating land from capital is one of many repeated and long-refuted criticisms of land taxes, as though real estate appraisal techniques are pseudoscientific divination. But if you want proof that it can be done, Lane should look no further than the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which in 2008 published a paper titled, “The Price of Land in the New York Metropolitan Area” (pdf). The authors used a dataset of 6,000 commercial real estate transactions that took place between 1999 and 2006 in which the new owner either purchased vacant land or demolished the building on it. They found that the price per square foot of land in the New York metro area rose from $46.65 in 1999 to $366.08 in 2006.

Despite his lack of evidence for the impossibility of assessing land values, Lane concludes:

As a result, it’s hard to devise a tax on wealth that raises a significant amount of revenue but doesn’t discourage at least some socially beneficial saving or entre­pre­neur­ship. The potential for adverse unintended consequences — economic and political — is greater than Piketty seems to realize.

This is true for Piketty but not George. Compare the difficulty of administering a land tax with the “ease” with which government devises taxes that confiscate people’s incomes. Apparently, Lane prefers squelching laborers and entrepreneurs in favor of a benevolent cartel of landowners. John Bates Clark would be proud.

The Stagnation in Household Consumption of Legal Services

A while back I reported on the BEA’s comprehensive revision to its GDP-by-industry accounts that overhauled the data on the legal sector’s output. Unfortunately, the new figures only go back to 1997 and it’s unclear when the BEA will update the data from prior years. Although I seriously doubt the comprehensive revision will significantly alter the pre-1997 numbers—and my arguments that are based on them—it’s an annoyance that the GDP-by-industry data can’t be cited without a caveat.

One thing I did find recently, however, is that the BEA tracks household consumption of legal services, and while the dataset doesn’t cover the entire private legal sector, it does go all the way back to 1959. Household legal sector purchases resemble the legal sector itself before the comprehensive revision: explosive growth in the 1980s, stagnation in the 1990s, a brief peak in the mid-2000s, and then deterioration.

I’ve labeled some noteworthy peak and trough years for real household consumption of legal services and the corresponding levels of total household consumption.

Household Consumption of Legal Services

(Source: BEA NIPA Tables 2.5.x, author’s calculations)

In 2012, households consumed less in private legal services than they did in 1988. If you divide this series on a per capita or per household basis, the true peak was probably 1990.

I believe this tends to support my hypothesis that demand for legal services is income and wealth elastic, and with more households at stagnant or lower income levels, they can’t afford to hire lawyers at a price that can sustain small practices. Nowadays, the current-dollar share of household consumption of legal services to total household consumption expenditures is 0.86 percent. In 1990 it was 1.09 percent. If that ratio had held, then today households would be consuming $119 billion rather than $94 billion in legal services.

The only alternative hypothesis is if since the early 1990s households have been substituting legal services with services from another sector, or if they’ve been executing most routine legal tasks themselves. Either way, unless households begin to consume more legal services, I don’t see any way for the legal sector to recover.

Think about that the next time you hear someone say that now is the best time to apply to law school.

Well, If *Moody’s* Says the Lawyer Bubble Has Popped…

…Then it must have popped conclusively, as Quartz puts it:

Law schools aren’t just facing a momentary downturn. The industry has to deal with the fact that the world simply needs far fewer lawyers.

Technology, a shift to flat-fee contracts from billing for time, and globalization have shifted the salary and employment math for students considering law school forever. And the impact has trickled down to law schools, particularly those schools without premier brands or support from large universities, according to an analyst note from Moody’s.

PolicyMic piles on:

It’s official: The law school bubble has popped. What was once a thriving, almost sure-thing is now becoming a risky and increasingly unattractive option for thousands of college grads.

Recent job statistics from Moody’s on Quartz paint a grim picture for recent law school graduates: …

Factors such as shifts in technology, billing methods, globalization and the unavoidable cuts caused by the sub-prime mortgage crisis have meant that the profession isn’t as flourishing and lucrative as it once was.

Problem number one here is, in my opinion, that these articles improperly treat Moody’s conclusions as established facts. They should be saying that Moody’s believes outsourcing, etc., is making law practice less lucrative. Just because it says it doesn’t make it true. Although, the PolicyMic article cites the million-dollar-law-degree paper via Wonkblog as fact as well, so that one’s just a mess.

What’s also curious is the credibility these sources extend to Moody’s—and set aside the whole they-said-those-mortgages-were-AAA+++aaa+ stuff. Moody’s opinion is notable, but it’s not gospel and it’s certainly not the officially designated bellwether for when any bubble pops.

On top of that, Moody’s ominously titled, “Law Schools Challenged to Adapt to Fundamental Changes in the Legal Industry” (pdf), offers a thin argument that:

Significant Industry Changes Will Depress Demand for Legal Education

Like many industries, the legal sector is undergoing notable change driven by multiple factors, including technology and globalization. The move from per-hour billing to flat-fee contracts also negatively affects the demand for lawyers. On April 9, the American Bar Association (ABA) reported employment statistics for the Class of 2013, nine months after graduation. The unemployment rate increased to 11.2% from 10.6% and 9.2% for the prior two years, respectively. (2)

Moody’s doesn’t prove the connection between technology, globalization, and outsourcing and the ABA employment statistics, and it doesn’t quantify the extent to which those factors even exist much less influence the legal sector itself. Nor does it show that people are choosing not to apply to law school because of those factors.

Regular readers will recall that the law school “tipping point” probably occurred four years ago, and I think back then even Big Debt Small Law emphasized graduates falling into doc review jobs more than “technology.” Indeed, I suspect the Moody’s paper is guilty of substituting its own prejudices for non-applicants’ thought processes.

None of this is to say that technology, outsourcing, flat-rate billing, etc. aren’t real phenomena or will be in the future; that’s not my point. It’s just that, contrary to Moody’s argument (if you want to call it that), they haven’t had a measurable effect on the legal sector yet. If they had, then we’d expect legal sector labor productivity to rise rapidly and lawyer jobs to collapse before the number of applicants began falling in 2011.

Output, Productivity, Employment, Applicants (2005=100)

(Sources: Bureau of Economic Analysis GDP-by-Industry tables, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Multifactor Productivity tables, BLS Employment Projections Program (odd-numbered years average of even years), and the LSAC)

Instead labor productivity in the legal sector has fallen since the Great Recession and while lawyer jobs are scarce (especially entry-level ones), it’s not like hundreds of thousands of attorneys have disappeared. The lawyer luddites haven’t arrived yet.

And by the way, if you want to say that the techno-outsourcing jobs aren’t in the legal sector, then that’s nice and I’d love to see your data, but it’s not Moody’s argument.

You can pick at Moody’s quartile analysis of law school employment outcomes, but I don’t think anyone seriously thinks that the legal sector will start generating substantial demand for new law grads anytime soon. It’s also unlikely that demand for legal education will come back either, which makes the bulk of the report unobjectionable. I just can’t believe Moody’s analysts get paid to write reports without citing any evidence of the forces they claim are influencing law applicants.

Strike that. I can believe it.

Speaking of Financing Legal Education…

So the ABA has promptly acted on the Task Force on the Future of Legal Education’s recommendation to convene a new task force to investigate the financing of legal education. I think the stakes for this task force are going to be higher than for the previous one because its focus is more specific and it will have to address concrete questions like what impact the federal loan program has on law school costs. Its mission?

The task force is charged with looking at the cost of legal education for students, the financing of law schools, student loans and educational debt. It will also consider current practices of law schools regarding the use of merit scholarships, tuition discounting and need-based aid.

To commemorate the task force, here’s some info on tuition and discounting from the Official Guide for the 2012-13 academic year, the most recent one for which data are available. Notably, the average private law school lost many students who were paying full tuition.

Mean No. Full-Time Private Law School Students by Grant Received

This translated into a sudden loss of $215 million in revenue from full-time students for private law schools, which comes to about $1.9 million per school on average.

Aggregate Revenue From Full-Time Private Law School Students Paying Full-Tuition

As a result, the percentage of full-time students paying full tuition at the average private law school fell below 44 percent, a loss of about 10 percentage points since 2001. Public law schools follow the same trend.

Percent Full-Time Law Students Paying Full Tuition

Increasingly, the stated tuition price is not indicative of what the first year of legal education really costs.

That’s all for now.


[Updated for comments below, here are the first two charts with lines excluding the top 20 private law schools by U.S. News ranking.

Mean No. Full-Time Private Law School Students by Grant Received Aggregrate Revenue From Full-Time Private Law School Students Paying Full TuitionThe decline in students receiving no grants is slightly steeper when you exclude the top 20 (~-3%). Same goes for aggregate revenue from full-time students paying full tuition.]