Thursday, November 29, 2012

Reverse "Entitlement" and why Law School is Allegedly Worth It

Well, the pressure is clearly on, which can only be a good thing.  Yet another resounding defense of the legal education industry, and boy, does the lady doth protest too much, lemme tell ya:

Counterarguments to these assertions abound within the scam-blog community, and they have been discussed here and in many other places.  One of my long-standing favorite half-truths is the assertion that average salaries for law grads are $125k.  While that can be technically true, the average tells you nothing about the standard deviation or distrubution of salaries.  What confidence interval are we talking about?  One sigma?  One-quarter sigma?  We all know about the bi-modal distrubution of legal salaries (see, for example, here).  Looking at that chart, the average could indeed be around $125k, but damn few people actually make that (2% according to NALP in 2008, and boy, oh boy, did the economy only improve from there).  Oh looky, 50% of grads make under $72k (the median), and a select chunk of well-connected people make $170k.  That's about an average of $125k!  See?!?

Who said lawyers were bad at math?  All technically true, precise...and heavily misleading.  Thanks, you bastions (bastards?) of ethics.  $50k salaries could be ok, but for the total cost of law school.  To turn a phrase, the tuition is too damn high, let alone the additional incidental costs to attend.  It's pretty easy to run up a $150k bill after three years.

Anyway, the defenders of the law school cartel always like to go on about how entitled grads are, how they have to think long-term, that education is an investment, that grads should be pursuing justice and liberty as opposed to filthy lucre, etc. etc. etc. One thing I've never seen a clear answer to:  why are (Boomer) Deans, Law Professors, and other Administrators "entitled" to handsome six-figure salaries?  Why are lol skools "entitled" to be revenue-drivers for the rest of the University?  They all acknowledge that student debt is a problem, and student tuition is directly proportional to salaries and "special projects".  But funny, ever-increasing tuition at rates several times that of inflation is as sacrosanct as Norquist's no-tax-increase pledge.  It is a given, and is never to be questioned.

The real question is: "Law School is Worth It" - but for whom, exactly?

One thing is clear.  Fish gotta swim.  Birds gotta fly.  Shills gotta shill.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

That Sound You Heard Was The Student Loan Bubble Popping

Well, because a law degree is one of the most expensive degrees out there as has been clearly demonstrated, apparently the cost-to-value proposition is not doin' too well.  While these charts are for all student loan debt, we also know that 45,000 law grads a year, at ever-increasing tutition, have been pumped out into the marketplace at a rate of 2 to 1 for available law positions for some time now.  No matter what hand-waving takes place about how great and versatile JDs are, the simple fact is that thousands of law grads live in these increasing default rates.  Many more struggle to stay ahead of the jaws of the default monster.  To say nothing of the circumstances of other degree holders.

Well, never mind the fact that tutition has grown at several times the rate of inflation due to sweet, sweet, Federal loan money.  As such, what was much easier to pay off in 1970 is a tad bit harder now.  Our Boomer forebears tend to conveniently forget this whole inflation-adjusted-money-expanding-cost-of-living proposition when myopically dismissing later generations for being "lazy" and "entitled."  Outside of elite circles, $500, $800, $1200-plus monthly student loan payments are tough to manage, to say the least. 

But, the lol skools got theirs, so who cares?  Whatevs.  Law grads just need to "network" more and take some personal responsibility.  Tuition coupled with diminishing prospects has nothing to do with it, and how dare anyone suggest otherwise.  This is a monster solely of the student's own making.

As the Once-ler once said, "Business is Business and Business must grow, regardless of crummies in tummies, you know..."