Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Costs & Benefits of Getting a Law Degree

See David Segal, Is Law School a Losing Game? NYTimes (Feb. 8, 2011).

The article begins with the following eye-catching sentence:

If there is ever a class in how to remain calm while trapped beneath $250,000 in loans, Michael Wallerstein ought to teach it.
Another eye-catching passage:
...Mr. Wallerstein and a generation of J.D.’s face the grimmest job market in decades. Since 2008, some 15,000 attorney and legal-staff jobs at large firms have vanished, according to a Northwestern Law study. ...

And with corporations scrutinizing their legal expenses as never before, more entry-level legal work is now outsourced to contract temporary employees, both in the United States and in countries like India. ...

But improbably enough, law schools have concluded that life for newly minted grads is getting sweeter, at least by one crucial measure. In 1997, when U.S. News first published a statistic called “graduates known to be employed nine months after graduation,” law schools reported an average employment rate of 84 percent. In the most recent U.S. News rankings, 93 percent of grads were working — nearly a 10-point jump.

In the Wonderland of these statistics, a remarkable number of law school grads are not just busy — they are raking it in. Many schools, even those that have failed to break into the U.S. News top 40, state that the median starting salary of graduates in the private sector is $160,000. That seems highly unlikely, given that Harvard and Yale, at the top of the pile, list the exact same figure.

How do law schools depict a feast amid so much famine?

“Enron-type accounting standards have become the norm,” says William Henderson of Indiana University, one of many exasperated law professors who are asking the American Bar Association to overhaul the way law schools assess themselves. “Every time I look at this data, I feel dirty.” It is an open secret, Professor Henderson and others say, that schools finesse survey information in dozens of ways.

Question: Did anyone ever think that lawyers (or, for that matter, law teachers, law school deans, and university presidents) are as a group paragons of virtue?

One of the things I have learned from the investigations conducted by the students in my Fact Investigation course:

There is much hanky-panky afoot in the world of "non-profits."

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The dynamic evidence page

It's here: the law of evidence on Spindle Law. See also this post and this post.

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