Thursday, January 31, 2013

National media pick up on collapsing law schools story

You've probably already seen the New York Times story that came out yesterday, Law Schools’ Applications Fall as Costs Rise and Jobs Are Cut.  Interspersed are quotes like this:

“We are going through a revolution in law with a time bomb on our admissions books,” said William D. Henderson, a professor of law at Indiana University, who has written extensively on the issue. “Thirty years ago if you were looking to get on the escalator to upward mobility, you went to business or law school. Today, the law school escalator is broken.”

But you may not have yet seen a similar story running in The Atlantic called Law School Applications Are Collapsing (As They Should Be).  It's chock full of charts. graphs and data supporting the point that law schools are no longer immune from the forces that have brought down the rest of the economy since the great recession began and now the chickens have come home to roost.  Check it out.

There's also this related story running in the February issue of The Economist called Guilty as charged: Cheaper legal education and more liberal rules would benefit America’s lawyers—and their clientsHere's the relevant quote from that article:

During the decade before the economic crisis, spending on legal services in America grew twice as fast as inflation. The best lawyers made skyscrapers-full of money, tempting ever more students to pile into law schools. But most law graduates never get a big-firm job. Many of them instead become the kind of nuisance-lawsuit filer that makes the tort system a costly nightmare. According to a study in 2006, America has more lawyers per person of its population than any of 29 countries studied (except Greece), and it spends two to three times as much on its tort system, as a percentage of GDP, as other big economies (except Italy, where things are nearly as bad).

There are many reasons for this. One is the extortionate costs of a legal education. There is just one path for a lawyer in most American states: a four-year undergraduate degree in some unrelated subject, then a three-year law degree at one of 200 law schools accredited by the American Bar Association and an expensive preparation for the bar exam. This leaves today’s average law-school graduate with $100,000 of debt on top of undergraduate debts. Law-school debt means that many cannot afford to go into government or non-profit work, and that they have to work fearsomely hard.

You can continue reading at The Economist here.


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