Here is a comment that I posted at the ABA Journal in response to the article itself and to another poster's comment.
Zack, ABA Respond to Grassley Inquiry: Schools Aren't Misleading Scholarship Students
In response to Marcia's post, it's very possible that far fewer than 50% of all new law school graduates are able to find jobs in the legal profession. In fact, using the ABA's statistics for the number of new JDs minted every year and summing up the number produced over the past 40 year period and comparing that to the Bureau of Labor Statistics's number of people employed as lawyers, I have calculated that fewer than 54% of all JDs produced over the past 40 years work in the legal profession (at jobs of unknown quality, many of which may not provide compensation and actual after-tax wages commensurate with 7 years of college education and the costs of attending law school--solo practice, document review, "shitlaw", etc.). See:
Statistics suggest that only 53.8% of all lawyers are employed in the legal profession
I have also constructed a model and made some back-of-the-envelop calculations to show that the percentage of recent graduates who were able to find work in the legal profession may even be less than 30%. See:
Statistics may suggest that less than 30% of all new JDs were able to find work in the legal profession over the past 10 years.
The general public is unaware that a serious humanitarian crisis is occurring in the legal profession. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of recent law school graduates have been unable to find work in the legal profession while being burdened with often over $100,000 and in some cases even over $150,000 of law school loan debt (tuition + living expenses) without even considering undergraduate student loan debt. This debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. Because the general public believes that all lawyers are rich, unemployed and underemployed-involuntarily-out-of-field lawyers look like huge losers to non-legal employers, and as a result they often have difficulty securing non-legal white collar employment because they are perceived as being overqualified, as being losers who couldn't make it in a profession where everyone is guaranteed to rake in gobs of money (as the general public believes), or as being a job flight risk (leaving as soon as one of those abundant $160,000/year entry-level jobs comes along).
In short, many new JDs' lives have been almost completely destroyed by JD overproduction. In my opinion, this sort of economic devastation--unemployment, underemployment, and the poverty brought on by non-dischargeable student loan debt amongst otherwise hard-working, ambitious, well-meaning, often highly intelligent young people is a national tragedy and humanitarian crisis. It is very probable that some of these poor souls, drowning a deep sea of despair, even commit suicide.
JD overproduction appears to have began in the 1970’s and has continued unabated through present times. See:
40 Years of Lawyer Overproduction, a Data Table, and 2 Charts
The ABA and the Federal Government need to address this crisis. I propose reducing the number of law schools or law school seats in this country by 75% until 95% of JD-holders can obtain work in the legal profession that provides remunerative compensation commensurate with the investment of time and money in becoming a JD.
The recent must-read New York Times article by David Segal (Law School Economics: Ka-Ching!) said that 49,700 law students matriculated according to the Law School Admission Council:
Law School Economics: Ka-Ching!
At that rate of production, we would have almost 2 MILLION (!!!) JDs who would be of working age in 40 years. If we cannot employ (as working lawyers) the (about) 1,467,000 JDs who graduated over the past 40 years, how the heck are we supposed to employ 2 million JDs? In fact if the amount of new JDs produced each year continues to increase as new law schools (university cash cows) continue to open, we may reach the 2 million mark sooner rather than later:
2 million attorneys?
2 million attorneys? Not as far-fetched as it might seem
Hopefully Congress and the ABA will act to end this humanitarian crisis before more bright ambitious young people (who have been heavily and continuously indoctrinated with the propaganda that higher education and advanced degrees are a guarantor of economic and vocational success since early childhood and arguably confused by what may be misleading JD employment statistics published by the law schools) become unwitting victims of the "Law School Scam".
However, I truly doubt that it will happen absent federal government pressure. Reducing the number of law schools and law school seats would probably need to be done over law school stakeholders' dead bodies. That is to say, the "Law School Scam" is very lucrative and beneficial for the people who work in the law school industry ( at the expense of the poor law students and hundreds of thousands of preexisting JDs (who suffer from an influx of new JDs).
Those of us who are compassionate, conscientious people need to organize and unite so that we can compel Congress and the ABA to end this worsening humanitarian crisis by dramatically reducing the number of law schools and law school seats. Employment markets may be tight in all fields, but it is better to not have a law degree and law school debt and no legal job than it is to have a law degree and law school debt and no legal job.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Here is a comment that I posted at the ABA Journal in response to the article itself and to another poster's comment.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
I haven't had much time or inclination to post in the past three months, but I wrote a long post on the JD Underground forum and thought I'd turn it into a blog post.
Why is it that our nation's politicians and intellectuals (perhaps unwittingly) support the higher education scam by advocating higher education as a solution to our nation's employment problems?
Basically, the promise of higher education as a means of upward economic mobility serves a function similar to that of religion--it's a means of social control. That is precisely why our politicians, intellectuals, and university elites love to advocate it so much. Also, it is completely uncontroversial. The upper classes are being confronted by an increasingly angry populace that feels that our nation's social structure is becoming akin to a caste system with a lack of upward (but not downward) economic class mobility. If the masses began to believe that our society were structured against them and that it suffers from some sort of a gross unfairness, they could revolt like unruly Frenchmen protesting a proposal to raise the retirement age (or worse).
So, our politicians, intellectuals, business executives, and their media lackeys have been falling all over themselves to sell the promise of higher education to the masses as though it were an opiate. This goes for practically all of our politicians on both sides of the aisle; this is non-partisan. The implicit and sometimes explicit message is:
"Your unemployment and underemployment problems will be solved if you earn a college degree or obtain an advanced degree."Thus, unemployed and underemployed Americans will tend to blame themselves for not being educated enough, for not having been smart enough, for not having worked hard enough, or for not having networked hard enough rather than to blame the state of the American economy, our politicians, and the upper classes. At least the masses won't blame our politicians as much as they otherwise might. Also, many people really do believe all of that claptrap, especially older people (who entered the labor market in a very different time) and people who are currently happily employed. Also, people who tend to support free market ideology, such as Libertarians, Republicans, and the TEA Party types are liable to buy into the propaganda because it is consistent with their faith in Meritocracy (work hard and take responsibility by preparing yourself through higher education and you will get the jobs and vocational success that you deserve).
"The reason you're unemployed (or that your wages are low) is because you only have a high school education."
"Even though you have a bachelors degree, you're unemployed because your grades weren't high enough...or you don't have an advanced degree...or you didn't major in the right field but if you go back to school and major in a science-technology-engineering-math (STEM) field you're guaranteed to find a good solid middle class job."
I have been writing, for a long time, that it's much easier for politicians to say that we need more and better education than it is to actually address our real economic problems. Advocating higher education is warm-and-fuzzy and touchy-feely. What kind of a monster would oppose higher education? In contrast, it's much more difficult to even merely acknowledge nation's our real economic problems--Global Labor Arbitrage and population explosion:
(1.) We've sent millions of jobs including many college-education-requiring knowledge-based jobs to Mexico, India, and China (foreign outsourcing or offshoring).
(2.) We've also imported hundreds of thousands of foreigners on H-1B and L-1 visas to displace Americans domestically from what are often college-education-requiring knowledge-based jobs (often the ones people are supposed to retrain and re-educate for).
(3.) We've imported tens of millions of impoverished immigrants (legally and illegally) to displace working class Americans from their jobs and to drive down wages while also saddling ourselves with the costs of having to care for millions more poor people (health care for illegals, education for their kids, any associated criminal costs, etc.).
(4.) As a result of this mass immigration, we've suffered a population explosion. This means that we have fewer resources available per capita that can be used for consumption and economic growth, resulting in higher prices for those limited natural resources and a degradation of our environment (arable land, land around cities for housing, domestic oil supplies, freshwater, clean air, lumber, food, etc.). See the must-watch video: Immigration by the Numbers (aka "Immigration Gumballs").
Who does Global Labor Arbitrage benefit? The upper classes who own the businesses of course! They're also the same people who purchased our politicians. As a result of this gigantic increase in the amount of available labor, business owners can keep larger percentages of workers' contributions to the act of wealth production for themselves as profits. That is to say, the increase in the amount of labor relative to the amount of capital (jobs) serving the American market means that the price point where the supply and demand curves intersect must decrease. Facial prices for some goods and services may also decrease, but the end result is that workers' compensation in terms of the amount of goods and services they can afford to purchase must decrease. So, the Rich will get richer and the middle and lower classes will become poorer.
It's so much easier for a politician to say, "I propose to solve our economic problems by strengthening K-12 education, by increasing funding for college education, and by making college education more accessible," than it is to say, "I propose trade protectionism, an end to the work visa programs, and a moratorium on immigration."
Sadly, the sheeple just guzzle down this higher education message as though they were drinking Jonestown Kool-Aid. Then, when they lose their jobs, fail to find jobs with their college degrees, or suffer wage and benefits cuts, they blame themselves for not having enough education. Higher education also removes people from the labor market, decreasing the unemployment numbers. (In the absence of a labor shortage, I think that college students should be counted as unemployed, or at lest some percentage should be counted as unemployed.) Ultimately, the American people are themselves to blame for buying into this message, failing to understand what's really going on, and for electing our current politicians and for failing to drown all of them in the Potomac.
Will this higher education problem ever get resolved? As the force of Global Labor Arbitrage transforms our nation into a third world country and as student loans spiral out of control, eventually college graduates will end up defaulting in mass, making government-backed student loans untenable. Over a period of decades, the populace (many of whom will already be used to third world standards of living having emigrated from third world countries or being one generation removed) will become complacent about the "New Normal" and accept their impoverished standard of living, the student loans will disappear, and many colleges will shut down.
The United States may transform itself into a third world economy, but the Rich will enjoy large amounts of low-wage labor and our current politicians will have been able to successfully deflect a terrified populace's angry wrath.