Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Student Loan Defaults at 15%

Offered without comment:

OK, I lied, here's some commentary because I can't not go on about this:  The lol skool shills will go on and on about how "this is across all student loans, not specifically law grads" and  "law is a lifetime career" and the other old, tired canards.


“This situation is simply unsustainable and we’re already suffering the consequences,” Andrew Jennings, chief analytics officer of Fair Issac, said in the statement. “When wage growth is slow and jobs are not as plentiful as they once were, it is impossible for individuals to continue taking out ever-larger student loans without greatly increasing the risk of default.”

Wage growth is slow, in the legal industry, no less?  Jobs not as plentiful?  What?  Oh, right, cf. 2013 Citi/Hildebrandt, for example.  Guess the lol skools have been getting that whole "valuable, versatile law degree" thing wrong for some time now.  Sure, Deans and profs can point to all kinds of success stories - the "in" crowd always does well.  For the average Joe, however, who makes up the other 95% of the class, there's MasterCard.

Out of the billions of dollars of defaulted loans (remember, for those keeping score at home, total student loan debt is at $1 trillion), there are at least, I don't know, one or two law grads in that number.  At least.  Considering that a law degree costs $150k plus expenses.  And that JDs have been overproduced 2-to-1 to available jobs for decades.

The lol skool cartel's response?  Fire groundskeepers and maintenance staff.  Accredit new law schools.  Add more to the "ever-larger" tuition bills, every year, at four times the rate of inflation.

Non-trads, look at the thousands who have gone before you - look at the comments of other non-trads who have been through the wringer on this blog and on other sites.  Look at the increasing volume of student loan defaults.  Don't waste your hard earned money and savings on something where the law schools are growing ever desperate.  The law school scam is going from red-hot to white-hot.  Stay away at all costs.

Monday, January 28, 2013

More and More Students Avoiding Law School

"Work Pro Bono!  Defend Liberty!  Pursue Justice!  Pay tuition! no attention to the employment statistics behind the curtain...!  Ignore the Dean/Professor salaries...!   Come back, you ungreatful wretches...!" 

Well, it was bound to happen.  You just can't have this level of bad outcomes and think no one is going to respond to it.  The invisible hand of the market works, even in academia.

And it was necessary.  Many, many sites have been calling attention to the ever-increasing rise of tuition, the bi-modal distribution of salaries, the less-than-frank employment statistics, and systemic JD overproduction.  Student loan totals kept going higher and higher, default rates increased, large law firms let go of thousands of attorneys.  The legal jobs market continues to be a cesspool of too many graduates chasing too few jobs.

The generalized response to these whistleblowers early on (as is always the case) was that jobless, debt-ridden graduates were entitled losers that needed to buck up and go get a job, for crissakes.   Go “network” or something.  Move to an “underserved” state, like Nebraska.  Be willing to work for free…no one is going to hand you a job on a silver platter (well, unless you know the right people at the start, of course).  You have to want it bad enough and be willing to make your own way. 

However, the truth could not be swept under the rug.  Then tactics changed…the deans and profs began to write multiple op-eds about how great an investment a law degree was, how “versatile” a law degree was.  The theme came back to being defenders of liberty and servants to the community.  How law was a long-term vocation that lead to a satisfying life.  Of course tuition couldn’t be reduced…you can’t train the next generation of legal saviors on the cheap, you know.   But, we’ll play games with LSAT scores, “scholarships,” and what-not to keep the students coming in.  Recently, Citi/Hildebrandt opined that structural changes in the legal world are here to stay, with significant downward pressure on firm profits for many years to come, but let’s not pay too much attention to that as it conflicts with the “valuable law degree” and “preparing leaders” worldview.  Keep outsourcing that doc review to India.

"Wait, so you're saying that 98% of your graduates have jobs requiring a JD, nine months after graduation.  At an average salary of $135k?"

However, it appears that declines in applications are down anywhere from 10 to 30 percent, depending on the school (we’ll leave the matching of the percent-decline to the school as an exercise for the reader).  Apparently, you can’t fool all of the people all of the time, even prospective law students.  Professor Merritt (Ohio State) states that “I would be surprised to see applications go up again, unless there are major changes in the legal industry.” 

What the lol skool cartel can’t seem to understand, despite their tone-deaf attempts to deny the obvious, data-driven truth, is that this not a failure of the students – it is the failure of the entire model of legal education.  Upton Sinclair put it this way, in The Jungle:

They were of the triumphant and insolent possessors; they had a hall, and a fire, and food and clothing and money, and so they might preach to hungry men, and the hungry men must be humble and listen! They were trying to save their souls--and who but a fool could fail to see that all that was the matter with their souls was that they had not been able to get a decent existence for their bodies?

If a few people get great results, and the vast majority are consigned to debt-slavery, then you are a willing, complicit part of the problem, not the solution.  Until these “major changes” come along (don’t hold your breath), the only winning move is not to play.  Remember, all you “sophisticated consumers,” our learned court system has told us how to evaluate law school claims: caveat emptor.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


This commenter hits the nail on the head, from ITLSS.  I share this because the lol skools hammer this selling point hard with non-trads:

(8) You can do a lot of things with a law degree besides practice law.

Let's first redefine "a lot of things with a law degree" to the intended result for an average graduate. You can do a lot of PAYING things with a law degree. For example a law degree qualifies me to do all kinds of volunteer work, which unfortunately does not earn me any money.

Let's also subtract graduates of Harvard and Yale law schools from our sample of law school graduates, since such law degrees are much more likely to produce flexable career results, which are not typical for the rest of the profession. i.e. the signaling value from a graduate program from these two Ivy League law programs, is far stronger, then almost all the other law schools, though I suppose people could argue about Stanford or the University of Chicago or Columbia. These Harvard and Yale are approximately 1% of our law school sample.

If you apply for a job that does not require a law degree from almost any other law school you then have to deal with the standard question. "Is he more argumentative then the rest of our applicants?" "Is he more likely to sue?" "Is he more likely to jump back into the law". and my favorite, "I don't care what he brings to the table, since my contested divorce I've hated all lawyers!" Given the economy its far easier for the HR department to simply exclude the lawyer from the non-legal job, and instead take no risk, by choosing all the obvious round pegs for the round employment openings they need to fill.

Let's collectively call this the JD disadvantage.

Now perhaps, in a small minority of cases, Catbert the HR director actually prefers JD holders over non JD holders for a job that does require such a degree. Perhaps there is something in his or her background that influences this choice.

However, I do not need to prove that a JD is ALWAYS a disadvantage when applying for a job that does not require such a degree, I am only arguing that the majority of the time, based admittedly on antidotal evidence that JD Disadvantage exists, and that the applicant would have been more likely to have obtained that non-legal job, with a degree other then a JD.

Straight up, anonymous.  Be sure you bring copious backing and connections before taking the dive, non-trads.  (How the 20-something set is supposed to have these without family money is unclear to me, but hey...versatile JD blah blah blah). 

As the learned courts have told us regarding law school claims: cavaet emptor.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Profs protest too much...

Sigh.  'Nuff said, really:

"Looking for a low-stress job? Being a full-time university professor is the least stressful career for 2013, according to jobs site

"Professors are kings of their kingdoms," said Tony Lee, publisher of and "They tell students what they must do." '

Of course, get ready for the legal-ese reply:  "But, law professors are not the typical university professor, so this does not apply." 

Nope, they certainly aren't.  Considering that they make twice as much as the average professor in the article above, it's no wonder they defend their legal prestidigitations as opposed to say, well, caring about student outcomes.  Meh.  The former is fun navel-gazing, the latter is, well, what can you do?  The market heals all.

With rare exceptions (e.g. Tamanaha, Campos), the law profs are certainly more concerned with declining student enrollments and propping up their failed model, where law graduates are overproduced 2-to-1 to available jobs

Don't get embroiled in this quagmire.  Non-trads, cavaet emptor.

EDIT:  Sigh.  'Nuff said, part Deux:

"What Is This Really About?

There is a very important and distinct difference between "knowing that" and "knowing how," with the crux of the distinction being the difference between this initiative and that vast swath of modern academia. "Know that" is a function of rote memorization of static information, passed down from the Prussian method of education implemented over 200 years ago and still common use today and "know how" is basically understanding of how to get things done...

"Know how" is what has separated the labor intensive low margin industries of the far east from the Intellectual Property rich industries found in the US, at least until now. After decades of toiling in an antiquated teaching system producing a legions of leveraged "know that" recipients who then seek "know how" in the work force (basically asking employers to pay to learn on the job what they should have learned from school) to pay off or compensate for hundreds of thousands of dollars of tuition bills and debt, the US is finally paying the piper for its lackadaisical approach to real education. Asian companies such as Samsung are actually outperforming their sterling US counterparts such as Apple in both product capability, product quality and even market share. In order to stem this tide, true "know[ledge] how" must become - once again - the aim, goal and accomplishment of the education system, similar to the apprenticeships of old."

Law School is "know that," non-trads, not "know how."  Lol skools are scrambling to demonstrate the link between "valued, versatile JDs" and the marketplace, but they just can't come up with it - maybe because the model is 100+ years old.  "Know that" is not worth the $150k+ price-tag in today's economy.  It just isn't.  Thus, the reliance on graduates with connections who can score their own on-the-job training.  See?  It worked for this handful of students!  The rest of you....well...."network," or something.

Most people assume (understandably) that your legal education is teaching you how to actually practice law, thus the collective head-scratching by the populace-at-large regarding swarms of unemployed or underemployed JDs, who struggle to pay the bills if they even have a job.  The Wizard of LOLZ will bellow otherwise about ungreatful JDs and how Law School is not crass vocational training for obtaining filthy lucre, but by all means do not ignore "The Man" behind the curtain. The price tag is just too high.