Friday, August 27, 2010

60% of our nation's Law Schools need to Close. Actually, 75% of them should be closed.

If the law schools are producing 45,000 new JDs annually and our nation only needs 19,000 or 16,245 new attorneys to replace the 1/40 that retire, then 57.8% or 63.9% of the law schools need to close, assuming that they all produce the same number of new JDs each year.

So, now we finally have a number to use--60%. As in, "Cut the number of law school seats by 60%." Or, "We need to close 60% of the law schools."  However, since our nation already has a huge backlog of unemployed and underemployed-involuntarily-out-of-field attorneys, it would be better to cut the number of law schools by 75%.

Of course, if the ABA ever gets wind of this post it will fall on deaf ears; they are contemplating accrediting foreign law schools which will only further increase the number of new JDs produced every year. Of course, as the value of a JD decreases, the law schools will respond with tuition increases.


Anonymous said...

I am not sure why Law Schools are the focal point. Think of how many schools graduate Criminal justice majors that will never have a chance to be a cop for a variety of reasons. Everest Institute lets those kids take out loans to be a massage therapist, or whatever they are calling those that give hand jobs now. You can get a degree in Philosophy. And you can still wait tables. Not just Law degrees can suck. Just saying.

Frank the Underemployed Professional said...

Oh, I wholeheartedly agree that this problem of degree overproduction, economic waste, and damaged lives goes far beyond law school. It's also a problem for MBAs, scientists, and people in other fields as well, including undergraduate education.

I'm interested in those areas, too, and have posted about for profit colleges and the career graveyard that is the science field on this blog. I refer to the problem as the "Education Arms Race". In my view, our society is spending too much money on excess and unneeded college education and it is damaging people's lives and our economy.

The huge oversupply of college educated people allows employers to engage in "credential inflation." Employers now required college degrees for jobs that don't make any real use of them, using the attainment of a college degree as a proxy for IQ, ambitiousness, and responsibility. Years ago, these very same jobs were filled by people who possessed mere high school diplomas, and they learned on-the-job. Today those jobs have not really changed, but people waste 4 years of time and large amounts of money to become employable for them.

Since I have a law degree, I'm particularly interested in the value of going to law school. Also, law school is a very egregious example of economic waste and devastated lives because of low probability of obtaining a return-on-investment, the tremendous costs of attending, and the huge amounts of student loan debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

Rest assured, I'm also very interested in the issue of degree overproduction in other graduate, professional, and undergraduate fields. My position is consistent.

Anonymous said...

You know how it's illegal for hard alcohol such as liquors and wines, and for cigarettes to kids, to advertise?

It should be the same for higher education. It should be illegal for higher education to spend any money advertising on television or other major print medias. They can send out their own brochures but enough of the government and the media mass endorsing education.

And of course, the government has to get out of the student loan business, and also has to stop insulating lenders from the free market. The government is quite very socialist when it's busy bailing out banks, corporations and loan companies, but utterly refuses to provide the same services to the average person for health care, home loans, etc. These major institutions are the ones that least need help, but of course they are the only ones that can push it through.

Make some of those changes and the market corrects itself. Of course that won't happen, as politicians are a corrupt lot and bought off by these special interests. There is no reason for a student loan bankruptcy exception. It is there entirely to insulate lenders. If I could run a business with no risk of loss and heavy profits, of course I would. Everyone would. But we don't have those options.

At this point I am skeptic of all higher education. I hear the medical field is going down the drain too, although I still see so many scholarship opportunities for those that will serve underrepresented communities. And of course there is IBR and loan forgiveness. We don't have equivalents in law so I feel this is the worst field most likely. But the others are just lesser evils.

Anonymous said...

I'm pleasantly surprised to see a link on your blog for a website on Peak Oil. This is something I'm greatly interested in and is not reported by the mainstream media at all. In my opinion, our current economic troubles are due to flat global oil production that has existed since 2005. Without an increasing supply of energy, the world economy simply cannot expand. So the good news is people are not entirely to blame themselves for their difficulties. The bad news is if global oil production begins to decline, we have a lot more to worry about than whether student debt can be paid off.

Frank the Underemployed Professional said...

Thank you for your kind words. At $2.75/gallon for gasoline, it may not have affected us too much yet. However, it's definitely a cause for concern and one that the media and our politicians seem to ignore.

Although I haven't written about it much, I'm also interested in issues such as population explosion and carrying capacity. (Hence the links to Negative Population Growth and the "Immigration Gumballs" video.)

Peak Oil researcher said...

You mentioned carrying capacity. There is a very good article on oil supply and human population growth at

People sometimes overload when reading something like this because its implications are so staggering.

Anonymous said...

All good posts above.

What you will still hear, from local politicians right up to the White House, Senators, Members of Congress, though, is that "education is the answer". From urban blight, to crime, to social ills of every type, the answer is education. I think they just say that as a knee-jerk response, in an attmept to conceal their lack of a true vision. That is, no one really knows what to do with this post-industrial economy of ours.

The post-World War Two industrial boom and the type of economy it brought was the outgrowth of a devastated Europe and Japan which no longer exist. A certain generation (let's call them "Baby Boomers") enjoyed the largesse of this unique time of unprecedented prosperity. Accordingly, and somewhat understandably, they cultivated a belief in higher education for its own sake, as it worked for them. THEIR generation could score a white-collar gig at General Motors with an Englist BA (with all due respect)and not incure too much debt doing it. Threfore, they have fond memories of their college days, and foist those expectations on their kids. As a result of the flood of people now with degrees, they want a degree in child development, for chrissakes, to work in a day care center. And they can get it, too.

Educational arms race? I heartily agree.

Peak Oil researcher said...

If I may be so bold: You're right that the post-WW2 period for the first 35 years was an unprecedented time in US history due to the devastation outside of the USA. But don't you think there would be a lot more white collar jobs requiring a college degree if more manufacturing jobs had remained in the USA rather being exported to Asia and Mexico? When the USA allowed Corporate America to outsource its manufacturing to foreign countries, it essentially weakened the white collar job market. I believe in free trade if it doesn't do significant harm to the USA, but when it does, I don't see the point.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, 60-75% of law schools will not close. The problem of too many law grads is not going to go away, this is a lost profession. It is too easy and profitable to start a law school. And the establishment of law professors and administrators have too much at stake for any meaningful concern for the fates of their graduates. At $40,000 a year, law school is just too lucrative for the diploma mills. Most grads will not completely know what hit them until well after graduation, graduating into an abyss, and by then a new crop of clueless students will be signing their student loan paperwork, fresh blood to feed the educational industrial complex. How long can this scheme continue? I do not know. How long were the tobacco companies able to deny the link between cigarettes and cancer? This whole educational bubble is fueled by easy credit by the government. Just like there was a day of reckoning with the housing market, there will also be a time when the student loans come back to wreak financial havoc on this country, until then it open season for the diploma mills.

I agree law schools are not alone in producing useless degrees and certificates. There is a myth in the United States that education is good. However, education can be evil when it is costly and in the end hurts the student providing little or no financial benefit for the endeavor, this applies to all study programs. You need money to live, have a family, buy a house and if you put yourself in debt and come out the other end of your studies with bad job prospects, it is terrible, it is not a pretty picture.

Nando said...

This "profession" is a damn joke. In a perfect world, there would only be about 30 American law schools perhaps producing 6,000-7,000 JDs every year.

However, the law schools, Biglaw firms and the ABA have too much of a stake to change course. For instance, with so many students aiming for Biglaw, if several were to leave on principle, THOUSANDS more will throw themselves at Sullivan & Cromwell, etc.

Anonymous said...

For you fellas talking about peak oil, its not what you think it is.

I considered going to law school but am now working on a masters in petroleum geology.

We are not 'running out' of oil. It is more expensive to find, that is all.

Production is a function of the price of oil. When the price of oil is low, they do not drill (produce) as much. When the price returns to 80-100 per barrel, you see much more exploration/drilling.

The price of oil is not a function of how much is 'left', its simply based on our current refining capacity and short term inventories. Its more of a snapshot of the market than say how much hydrocarbons are left in the ground.

Just sayin...

Peak Oil researcher said...

If what you say is true, why hasn't world oil production increased from the 2005 level as the oil price has increased from $45/bbl to $150/bbl?

CEOmum said...

We have been fed the lie for years by academic institutions, our parents, friends oh heck society as a whole that qualifications in academia are what count.

Little Susie who is sweet and sociable and loves to draw is not a favored as her brother Ben the argumentative academic who will one day be a lawyer. Pity they don't know that Susie might one day become a PR expert or a Disney cartoonist while Ben might have to move home because incredibly he can't find a job.

"Mr Orwell" said...

Law Schools are the focal point because they come closest to guaranteeing that immature lawyer wannabees will be able to pay their loans back.

The whole presentation of law schools is dishonest. A law school dean with balls (guts, if a woman) would interview every incoming student and let no one in who did not strike him as likely to become a lawyer. He would let no student borrow more than $20K per year, and if he could not run his school on that money, he would shut it down for a year and start it up again the next year.

I have a son who bought this whole "I'm going to be a lawyer and make $80K" shtick. He was a fool, emotionally 17 at the age of 24. I'm sure he looked to the law school the way a feeble old lady looks to a mugger: a good mark. Dumb, no street smarts, una ble to fight back.

It was Northeastern Law School in Boston that suckered my foolhardy son--a place I will hate until I die. And Dean Emily Spieler, a self-deceiving politically correct socially progressive self-interested...[you supply the noun.]

And if anyone says, "Why didn't you keep your son from making this mistake?" all I can say is that not all sons and daughters are mature enough to take advice or listen to parents.

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