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posted by LaminatorX on Thursday December 04 2014, @09:53AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the first-kill-all-the-lawyers dept.

Elizabeth Olson reports at the NYT that financially wobbly law schools face plunging enrollment, strenuous resistance to six-figure student debt and the lack of job guarantees — in addition to the need to balance their battered budgets. Nine months after graduating, only 57 percent of the 2013 class had full-time jobs that required passing the bar. Law schools are left in the unenviable position of trying to allay students’ fears that they will not be able to find a job that pays enough to repay $150,000 to $200,000 in education loans. With the declining interest, law schools have been working hard behind the scenes to trim their operations and to expand their offerings of joint degrees in, say, law and medicine. Still they are trying to avoid wholesale cuts in faculty or degrees, steps that would publicly eviscerate their business model and reputation. “I don’t get how the math adds up for the number of schools and the number of students,” says Professor Rodriguez of Northwestern, who is also president of the Association of American Law Schools. “We all know it’s happening, and we are all taking steps that urgent, not desperate, times call for.”

The history of another graduate school bust suggests what may be in store for the nation's 204 ABA accredited law schools. After peaking in 1979, dental-school enrollments precipitously collapsed (the reasons why included “improved dental health from fluoridation, reductions in federal funding, high tuition costs and debt loads,” among others). By the mid-1980s, they were down by about one-third. Then, over the next several years, six private universities closed their dental schools, including Emory University and Georgetown University, which had been the largest program in the country. Given there were only about 60 dental schools to begin with, this amounted to a pretty enormous bust. "The point is that law schools are facing similar pressures," says Jordan Weissmann. "Many institutions opened law schools precisely because they were supposed to be cash cows and won’t be particularly psyched to suddenly start subsidizing them. "

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  • (Score: 2) by hoochiecoochieman on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:29AM

    by hoochiecoochieman (4158) on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:29AM (#122509)

    And they will be sorely missed... NOT!

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:33AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:33AM (#122511)

      You got it wrong brotha we neeeed lawyers so you plee bragin yer way outa jail when you be smokin the dope aint no way you gonna bargin wit out no layear bro all dem dopey niggas got laweys.

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:30AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:30AM (#122510)

    Vote for Obamy, and you be garonteeed a job dat pays much money as you want, brotha! The moneys out there you just go out there and peeples dey be giving you money! That's the American Dream, brotha! Obamy promise you a job! Vote Obamy!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:35AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:35AM (#122512)

    We don't need any more doctors, we got the Obamacare!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @03:45PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @03:45PM (#122579)

      Should this be backwards? With Obamacare, more people can afford to actually see a doctor resulting in need for more doctors? So close law schools, open medical schools, perhaps?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:39AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:39AM (#122514)

    Now that nerds are highly paid and highly respected professionals because of their expert computer knowledge, the age of nerd domination has finally arrived. Excelsior!

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:43AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:43AM (#122515)

    Now lawyers can live in the gutter too. Keep chasing those pennies!

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:49AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:49AM (#122516)

    Dear Editor,
    Kindly refrain from publishing opinion pieces penned by hysterical women who are genetically inferior to men. Such publication only serves to tarnish the reputation of your fine newspaper.
    Yours truly,
    James Watson

  • (Score: 2) by RobotMonster on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:50AM

    by RobotMonster (130) on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:50AM (#122517) Journal

    five-figure student debt.....$150,000 to $200,000 in education loans

    $150,000 and $200,000 have six figures.
    I know counting all the way up to six is very hard, especially for highly trained journalists.
    Here's a pro tip: you can use your fingers!

    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:53AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:53AM (#122519)

      "I don’t get how the math adds up," whined Professor Rodriguez. "Arithmetic wasn't a requirement when I received my doctorate in Hispanic Studies."

    • (Score: 2) by martyb on Thursday December 04 2014, @12:36PM

      by martyb (76) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 04 2014, @12:36PM (#122533) Journal

      five-figure student debt.....$150,000 to $200,000 in education loans

      $150,000 and $200,000 have six figures.

      Urk? Ugh. Fixed! Thanks for pointing that out!

      --
      Wit is intellect, dancing.
  • (Score: 2) by Common Joe on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:54AM

    by Common Joe (33) <common.joe.0101NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday December 04 2014, @10:54AM (#122520) Journal

    I have two friends who are married to each other, went to law school, graduated, and passed the bar exam. (Before you say anything, they are actually very decent people.)

    He is now back in school learning security related stuff while she just started a new life as an elementary school teacher. They have both given up on their law degrees to put food on their table and be a profession they can enjoy.

    Apparently, the market in their area is flooded. They've had trouble finding jobs. They've had trouble making ends meet. And they didn't like the moral problems that came with the job... not all of it client related.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @11:00AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @11:00AM (#122522)

      How can you say they are actually very decent people when they're in an opposite-sex marriage?!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @11:25AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @11:25AM (#122525)

        They probably don't like systemd either.

      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday December 04 2014, @06:47PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Thursday December 04 2014, @06:47PM (#122658)

        Well, if they're faithful then it's always the same sex...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @04:17PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @04:17PM (#122592)

      I have two friends who are married to each other, went to law school, graduated, and passed the bar exam. They seemed to do everything together. Then one morning he picked up her phone and, out of curiosity, logged into her inbox.

      Please continue this version of the story.

      • (Score: 2) by Common Joe on Thursday December 04 2014, @04:55PM

        by Common Joe (33) <common.joe.0101NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday December 04 2014, @04:55PM (#122609) Journal

        I have two friends who are married to each other, went to law school, graduated, and passed the bar exam. They seemed to do everything together. Then one morning he picked up her phone and, out of curiosity, logged into her inbox.

        He found out that she wasn't making money on her side job, but he continued to support her in every way he could.

        One day, they fell into a vat of toxic waste and became "SuperUltraMegaMan" and "SuperUltraMegaGirl". They stopped crime, ended wars, and got children to eat their vegetables. They became so intelligent that they made ruthless lawyers and sociopathic law makers willfully commit Seppuku with origami-folded copies of the Constitution. The common man became happy, healthy, and productive. A new age of knowledge and discovery was founded and the world rejoiced in celebration. Sickness, poverty, and hunger were gone within five years.

        * First paragraph true. Second paragraph may or may not be true.

        ** Anyone got any toxic waste laying around?

  • (Score: 2) by Daiv on Thursday December 04 2014, @01:21PM

    by Daiv (3940) on Thursday December 04 2014, @01:21PM (#122538)

    This situation is almost certainly bad. We had almost 100% guarantee of concentrated sociopaths with so many people in law school. Now, if these sociopaths end up going through different career paths, it will be harder to identify them...

    Please, someone save these law schools!!!

    • (Score: 2) by Kromagv0 on Thursday December 04 2014, @01:41PM

      by Kromagv0 (1825) on Thursday December 04 2014, @01:41PM (#122544) Homepage

      Don't worry, they will all just shift over to going to business schools to get their MBAs so they will still be easily identified.

      --
      T-Shirts and bumper stickers [zazzle.com] to offend someone
    • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Thursday December 04 2014, @04:24PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Thursday December 04 2014, @04:24PM (#122597)

      Sociopaths show up in every walk of life: The boss who blames his subordinates for his own mistakes, the cop who shoots somebody a bunch of times in the back, the criminal who shoots the clerk or bank teller who cooperated with them, the drunk driver who kills his friend in a horrible wreck but doesn't even think about changing his behavior, the enraged abuser who decides to kill the spouse and kids, rapists of all stripes, those who falsely accuse others of crimes they can never disprove, and all sorts of others. Recognizing them is difficult, because they often put a lot of time and effort into appearing either harmless or benevolent, even though they are most definitely not.

      Also, all jokes aside, there are also lots of lawyers who aren't sociopaths, but are actually trying to improve lives and make sure sides are represented correctly. They work for peanuts at places like the EFF and ACLU, or in public defenders offices, or as no-name prosecutors, or thousands of other thankless legal jobs out there. There are lots of lawyers who work with small businesses to make reasonable and fair contracts (and make sure those business owners don't fall into legal traps set by the other party), and lawyers who work to ensure companies follow tax laws.

      --
      The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday December 04 2014, @01:55PM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 04 2014, @01:55PM (#122546) Journal
    IMHO, school enrollment is a good short term, contrary indicator for employment since post-graduate education is a popular alternative when one can't find work.
  • (Score: 2) by GungnirSniper on Thursday December 04 2014, @04:12PM

    by GungnirSniper (1671) on Thursday December 04 2014, @04:12PM (#122591) Journal

    If we have a glut of attorneys, why do they still cost so damn much? Shouldn't the hourly rates drop?

    • (Score: 2) by cmn32480 on Thursday December 04 2014, @04:18PM

      by cmn32480 (443) <{cmn32480} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday December 04 2014, @04:18PM (#122594) Journal

      Nope. If they drop their rates, how can they afford to pay their six figure loans back?

      Chasing ambulances is expensive, and I have no idea how much these lawyers filing class action suits spend on TV advertising, but it seems like I see at least one lawyer commercial an hour.

      --
      "It's a dog eat dog world, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear" - Norm Peterson
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @06:13PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04 2014, @06:13PM (#122642)

        Most lawyers work in small practices. When you pay $300/hr to that lawyer, that lawyer is not making $300/hr by any stretch of the imagination. They have to pay for their office space, staff, equipment, supplies, etc. etc. And it isn't like a job where you punch in and get paid till you punch out -- there must be work to do and when there is no work, that lawyer is earning negative money. Of course, yellow pages ads are an old standby for getting work -- but that's going to run $1-2000 per month in even a moderately sized market (less in tiny ones, more in larger ones) and that's for modest ads. In other words, when you pay an attorney, you are also paying for rent, taxes, advertising, staff salaries, equipment, supplies, etc. etc.

        Now, when it works, that lawyer can make a comfortable living. When it doesn't, they go bust. There's actually a lot of risk there considering the extra 3 years of education (no to minimal earnings), the massive liability for that education, the risk and anxiety of running a small business, and the responsibility for paying other people's salaries. There should be some compensation for taking on those risks.

        • (Score: 2) by chromas on Friday December 05 2014, @08:09AM

          by chromas (34) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 05 2014, @08:09AM (#122866) Journal

          when you pay an attorney, you are also paying for rent, taxes, advertising, staff salaries, equipment, supplies, etc. etc.

          Is that unique to lawyers? Maybe if they leased fewer et ceteras…

          when there is no work, that lawyer is earning negative money.

          Wait—what?