Thursday, November 17, 2011

Overeducated and Underemployed: Does That Make You a Philanthropist?

I know I haven't blogged for a long time, so maybe I'll get started again with a softball post. While listening to a YouTube video of Barbara Ehrenreich, I came across a great quote. I've contemplated this notion before, that the upper classes are living off the backs of the lower classes, but not in these terms:

"The real philanthropists in our society are the people who work for less than they can actually live on because they are giving of their time and their energy and their talents all the time so that people like you can be dressed well and fed cheaply and so on. They're giving to you."

Likewise, those who are overeducated and underemployed might arguably be philanthropists in that they could be providing additional value at the workplace over employees who meet the bare minimum requirements for the job. Also, it could be argued that they have essentially donated their money to colleges and universities if they are not obtaining a proper return on their investment.

You can find Ehrenreich's quote at around 5:00 in this YouTube video:

I hope to post about another great video of hers that resonates deeply with me soon.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Summarizing the Law School Scam--a comment I posted at the ABA Journal in response to an article.

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.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why Politicians and Intellectuals (perhaps unwittingly) Support the Higher Education Scam

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."

"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."
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).

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.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Graduate from Law School and You Too Can Sign Up for Food Stamps!

According to a recent post by "SoDespondent" on the JD Underground forum, a Top 20 law school's career services office helped a 3L sign up for food stamps!  Considering how extremely over-glutted the legal profession is and how having a JD often makes you overqualified and unemployable for non-legal jobs, a great many law school graduates are going to need food stamps.

If you are a college graduate and you qualify for food stamps, I think you should take the food stamps without guilt.  Our government's policies and our society's support for those policies have resulted in huge oversupplies of college and law school graduates.  So, smugly employed taxpayers and our government should help pay the price for the unemployment and underemployment crisis confronting many college graduates.

Here are some excerpts from "So Despondent's" initial post titled, Confirmed By Prof: Career Services Helping Students Sign Up for Food Stamps:

By telling them that yes, in fact, career services IS HELPING CERTAIN 3Ls LEARN HOW TO APPLY FOR FOOD STAMPS (EBT). They tried to provide some context and explain that the student who approached his counselor about how he would live has $140,000 in debt and will be working for "almost no money" at a nonprofit. They are trying to paint this as an atypical case and billing it as "noble self-sacrificing law student goes into poverty in order to do good works at nonprofit." Students aren't buying it, neither was the prof.

But apparently the word is out, now. I wonder how many more 3Ls, now that it's been confirmed, will slink into career services in the next couple of weeks to see if they too are eligible? Just another day at a TTTop 20 law school!
 From a follow-up post in the same thread, also by "SoDespondent":
Well, I don't know how well it stuck, but from talking to other students tonight, apparently this is in response to students asking them to start providing information on medicaid and food aid.
The big question on my mind, is, which law school is it and how many other law schools are doing the same?  Maybe the law schools can start advertising about how their career services offices will help graduates apply for food stamps, welfare, public housing assistance, and Medicaid.

Dear ABA, it's all your fault!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Even Medical Tech Types Can't Find Entry-Level Jobs (the Higher Education Scam Continues)

I'm sitting in a hospital waiting room with my laptop where I have just stumbled across an industry journal for surgical technologists.  I don't know much about this field, so I quickly browsed through it and came across a short op-ed written by a newly-minted surgical tech lamenting the difficulty she is having finding an entry-level job.  This is interesting because according to current conventional wisdom, jobs in health care are supposed to be abundant.  (I'm under the impression that surgical techs assist surgeons in the operating room.)

The short article is titled, "In Search of that Perfect (Any) Job" by Sharon Goff, CST, published in the April 2011 edition of The Surgical Technologist.  She wrote that she is a mother in her forties who graduated with honors with an associates degree.  Here are three quotes:

Despite it all, I had no job.  As a matter of fact, only two girls out of my graduating class have gotten a job.
I have visited many online surgical technology forums and seen the disappointment and anger from techs all over the country experiencing the same thing.
I quit visiting the forums after that because they are too depressing.  Shattered dreams, mounting debt, many feeling lied to or manipulated by the schools they attended.
Presumably, thousands of unemployed and underemployed people have invested time and money retraining and re-educating for medical support fields.  It all sounds like another instance of for-profit (and even public) colleges raking in the dough by making false promises.

In the meantime, as Americans' aggregate student loan debt reaches record levels (daily?), the media and our government will continue to promote the higher education scam.  For example:  Ohio Universities Told to Develop 3-Year Degrees so that higher education is more accessible to people, allowing them to become "productive members of society" with solid middle class jobs.  Of course, our politicians and media commentators completely fail to realize that increasing the number of college graduates will not magically increase the number of middle class jobs, just the number of rightfully angry unemployed and underemployed people with student loan debt.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Even Law Students at a Top 10 Law School Are Suffering from Entry-Level Job Hunting Woes

Evidence that the legal profession is a severely glutted field and that going to law school may be a horrible investment continues to pile up.  The problem of JD overproduction has become so bad that even graduates at one of the nation's traditional Top 10 law schools are having difficulty securing decent entry-level employment.

According to a recent post at the Above the Law blog, students at the very prestigious University of Virginia School of Law have been airing out their frustrations recently.  One artistic student took a stack of rejection letters and constructed a rejection letter replica of one of the law school buildings.  Other students wore t-shirts saying, "Virginia Law $40,000 a year and No Job". (Follow the links to see the photos.)

OK, ABA, what now?  Will you guys continue to accredit more unneeded law schools?  What does it say when students at one of the top 5% of the nation's law schools are having difficulty securing entry-level legal employment?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Less Than Slavery: Unpaid Internships

A very depressing and poignant consequence of our nation's Education Arms Race and college graduate overproduction is employers' growing expectation that college graduates should slave away at unpaid internships.  This is like adding insult to injury.  It is no longer sufficient to invest four years in college and tens of thousands of dollars to prove that you are serious about working in a field and building a career.  Now you need to work for free.  In economic terms, people with college degrees and often advanced and professional degrees are now a dime-a-dozen and the base ability to perform white collar labor no longer has much value.

As people graduate into glutted fields, they seek out these unpaid internships in the desperate hopes of maintaining their employability and the value of their college degrees.  Sadly, many if not most interns will probably fail to find work in their fields.  It's easy to understand why people do it, and I don't blame them, but often they are just prolonging having to face reality while their hopes for middle class lives die slowly.  The competition for good internships has become so bad that various sources have reported that some people are even paying money to work for free!

I have always taken offense to this notion that college graduates should work for free.  They've paid their tuition, they've done their time, and they're ready to contribute.  Perhaps decades ago it wasn't so awful.  In the past, perhaps people were able to obtain career-building employment through internships, but today it seems like they are just providing free labor.  It's somewhat understandable that employers would prefer to hire people who are working for free as opposed to moping around at home unemployed.  Sadly, this social convention is victimizing hordes of unemployed and underemployed people. 

If unpaid internships no longer provide a high chance of obtaining career-building employment in your field, then they are worse than slavery.  At least slaves receive room and board.  Interns only receive pats on the head while they pile on credit card and student loan debt.  Modern day internships may thus be a form of neo-slavery imposed on unemployed and underemployed college graduates by our social conventions.  This is just another aspect of our nation's decreasing quality of life and transformation into a third world country.

EDIT: For clarification, I don't deny that it's better to be a free intern than to be a slave.  Slavery is a horrible thing and the suffering you might experience as an intern does not in any way compare to the suffering of being an actual slave.  However, from a strictly economic perspective, it seems to me that a slave receives more compensation.  That is not to say that it is good compensation or desirable compensation or that anyone would prefer to be an actual slave over an intern.  I'm just saying that unless an unpaid internship leads to an actual job, a slave, or at least most slaves, receive more compensation in the form of some sort of food and shelter.  My intention with this post was not to comment on slavery, but on unpaid internships.  I hope this additional paragraph clarifies the context of my post for people who might wish to take it out of context.

EDIT April 5, 2012: A recent article published in Esquire sheds some light on the statistics:

Once you're out of college, you'll have to intern.  Again, no choice.  The practice of not paying young people for their labor has become so ingrained in the everyday practice of American business that we've forgotten how bizarre and recent the development is.  In the early 1980s, 3 percent of college grads had had an internship. By 2006, 84 percent had done at least one. Multiple internships are common.  According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, more than 75 percent of employers prefer students who have interned or had a similar working experience. 
Yup.  I knew it.  Previous generations didn't have to suffer working at free internships.  So, when know-it-all Baby Boomers tell you to work for free, almost all of them are telling you to do something that they themselves probably would have regarded as being beneath them or as extremely distasteful forty-five years ago.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

BLS Projects a very optimistic 98,500 new jobs for lawyers. In that time I project a very conservative net increase of at least 189,442 new JDs.

In a comment to Friday's post, the author of the Law School Tuition Bubble blog pointed out that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of jobs for lawyers will increase by 98,500 over the ten year period from 2008 to 2018.  (See the "Projections" data.)  Adjusting for lawyer retirements, what is the net increase in the number of lawyers produced over those ten years?

Let's use my standard assumption that a lawyer would want to practice or would end up practicing for 40 years.  (If someone graduated at age 25, he would earn their living working as a lawyer for 40 years before retiring at age 65.)  We have ABA data for the number of JDs produced between 1969 and 1978 (corresponding to JD production 40 years in the future from 2009 to 2018).  The net change in the number of JDs will be the difference between the number of JDs produced between 2009 and 2018 and the number produced from 1969 through 1978.


New JDs
1970 17,477
1971 17,006
1972 22,342
1973 27,756
1974 28,729
1975 29,961
1976 32,597
1977 33,640
1978 33,317

Unfortunately, we don't know how many new JDs will be minted between 2011 and 2018.  The only data I have in those regards is that 44,000 were produced in 2009.  Let's assume that 45,000 new JDs will be produced for each of the 9 years between 2010 and 2018.  (In reality, the number will probably be higher since the ABA continues accrediting new law schools.)

Years Law School

Law School Grads

2009 - 1969 44,000 16,733 27,267
2010 - 1970 45,000 17,477 27,523
2011 - 1971 45,000 17,006 27,994
2012 - 1972 45,000 22,342 22,658
2013 - 1973 45,000 27,756 17,244
2014 - 1974 45,000 28,729 16,271
2015 - 1975 45,000 29,961 15,039
2016 - 1976 45,000 32,597 12,403
2017 - 1977 45,000 33,640 11,360
2018 - 1978 45,000 33,317 11,683


So, for the BLS's projected 98,500 new lawyer jobs, the law schools and the ABA will produce a net increase of 189,442 new lawyers.  Assuming that these optimistic numbers are correct, only 52.0% of all new law school graduates will be able to find lawyer jobs.

I think that projection is very optimistic.  First, it assumes that the number of jobs for lawyers will actually increase.  Last week the ABA reported that the legal profession lost 2900 attorney jobs last month (when jobs in other sectors supposedly increased).  In the meantime legal process outsourcing is shipping lawyer jobs overseas and computers may become capable of basic document review.  Also, our nation's economy will probably continue to suffer from malaise, and as a general rule, less economic activity means fewer business transactions and less work for lawyers.  Moreover, historically the amount of new lawyer production increases over time.  In other words, in reality more than 45,000 new JDs will probably be produced each year while the increase in the number of jobs for lawyers will probably be smaller than 98,500, assuming that it increases at all.  Consequently, I suspect that the percentage of new graduates who are able to find entry-level law jobs will be much closer to the 29.1% and 27.35% figures I calculated previously.

Of course, in response, the ABA will probably continue to accredit new law schools and the law schools will probably continue to increase tuition and keep raking in the bucks.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Two Profound Articles. (That's Right JDs Rising Blog. It Is Very Much the ABA's and the Law Schools' Fault.)

I want to highlight two profound articles about the law school scam.  Other scambuster bloggers have posted about them.  I probably first became aware of these articles from reading the excellent Exposing the Law School Scam blog, but I want to mention them on my blog in the hopes of increasing publicity for these two pieces.

The first article is one of the best pieces I have ever read about the law school scam.  It was authored by Jason M. Dolin, Esq., a self-identified solo practitioner and adjunct law professor who sometimes teaches at a fourth tier toilet, Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio.  (It appears to have been presented at a conference.)  This article should be required reading for anyone who is considering the LSAT.

Opportunity Lost: How Law School Disappoints Law Students, The Public, and The Legal Profession  (This link is to a PDF.)

He begins by noting that almost all new lawyers are unprepared for the real-world practice of law and then points out that lawyer overproduction is a serious problem.

In my view there are two interconnected problems, both of which emanate from failings in the world of legal education. The first, is that law schools continue to produce large numbers of lawyers, flooding an already drowning market.  The second is, that having flooded the market, law schools have refused to teach new lawyers how to swim – how to practice.  Individually, the effects of either would be bad enough.  Together, however, the effects of these two shortcomings have had a tremendously damaging effect on law students, the legal profession, and most importantly, the public.
Later he goes on to say:
Driving a lot of the change in the world of law practice has been the glut of lawyers on the market; a glut fostered and even encouraged by the ABA and by law schools.  According to the American Bar Foundation, in 1951 there was one lawyer for every 695 Americans. Since then, in the year 2000 there was 1 lawyer for every 264 Americans.4 At that rate, in the year 2050 there will be 1 lawyer for every 100 Americans.  I think it is safe to say that, as a nation, the supply of lawyers long ago outstripped the demand for their services.  There are simply too many lawyers and too many law schools in the United States.  Given the oversupply of lawyers, if law schools were at all sensitive to market forces they would be shutting their doors or at least reducing their student headcount.  Instead, new law schools continue to open each year.
(Emphasis is mine.)

This is a profound admission coming from someone who sometimes teaches at a law school.  Note that I have calculated that the lawyer-to-population ratio is about 1 (accredited) JD for every 215 Americans based on ABA and Census Bureau stats, only counting JDs produced over the past 40 years.  (In previous posts I calculated what the lawyer-to-population ratio would be if the population and rate of lawyer production remained static for 40 years and concluded that over the past forty years the average of that figure would be about 1 JD for every 172 people.)

Here is another profound quote.  Here Dolin explains how JD overproduction is bad for consumers of legal services.  Prices decrease and access to a lawyer might increase, but at what cost?  He explains how it is actually a disservice to the public.  That's right, the ABA, in its seemingly ever incessant quest to increase new lawyer production (such as the publication of knowingly misleading stats about lawyer incomes) is doing a disservice to the public!  (The ABA article is misleading because the ABA very well knows (they would have to be retarded not to know) that they are a high-profile and presumably authoritative and reliable source of information, that prospective law students and their families might read it when deciding whether to go to law school, and that those income stats fail to account for the "incomes" or lack of income of unemployed and underemployed JDs.)
The overabundance of lawyers is not without consequence.  It is not benign.  It has hurt the practice and, more importantly, it has hurt the public.  This glut of lawyers has made competition for clients greater than it has ever been.  While the overabundance of lawyers may have the short term consumer benefit of depressing legal fees, there is more to competent lawyering than cost.  The low cost provider is not always the competent provider.  The oversupply has caused sometimes vicious and underhanded competition for clients.  When there are too many lawyers and not enough clients, there is a greater temptation for attorneys to over promise and, once the client has been landed, to overbill.  Stories of bill padding are legion.  The lack of business can encourage those on the margin to file frivolous lawsuits, built on little evidence, in the hope of a fast settlement.  Further, in a too-competitive market lawyers are tempted to handle cases that are beyond their competence or outside their area of expertise.  The results can be disastrous and the clients pay the price.
(Emphasis is mine.)

That is profound!  Consider the source.  The author is an adjunct law professor who seems to have presented this paper at a conference and who published it as a formal paper and not just a hot-headed scambuster blogger.  So, JD overproduction encourages potentially unethical behavior and exposes the public to incompetence or at least amateur work product!  Thus, the ABA and the law schools, rather than doing a service to American society, are, in essence, potentially exposing the public to unethical behavior and bad counsel!
A survey conducted for the State Bar of California in 1994 found that two thirds of the attorneys surveyed believed that lawyers “compromise their professionalism as a result of economic pressures.”[8]  Is it just coincidence that the increased loss of civility and professionalism coincides with the explosive growth of law schools? While you can’t blame the loss of professionalism entirely on the glut of lawyers, it is certainly a large contributing factor.[9]  The glut has turned lawyering almost entirely into a business, with an attendant loss of the professional values that once made lawyering a great and justifiably proud profession.

The result of all this is that law practice today is faster, more competitive, and more pressurized than ever before. Lawyers today face pressures and challenges unknown by those who practiced as recently as twenty or thirty years ago. Lawyers, many new but some old, struggle to survive in such a marketplace.  The temptation to cut ethical corners increases as it becomes more difficult to make a living.  According to former Chief Justice Rehnquist, “The greater the pressure of maximization of income, the more likely some sort of ethical difficulties will be encountered….”
So, why are the law schools continuing to pump out new JDs?  Why are they providing fraudulently misleading employment and income statistics?
Why then, given the glut of lawyers, do new law schools continue to open and existing law schools continue to graduate new lawyers in large numbers?  The answer, of course, is that by and large law schools make money.  Law schools and their affiliated universities have benefited handsomely from the increased number of those who desire law degrees and they continue to mint graduates in large numbers.  Whereas many, if not most, graduate programs are money losers for their universities, law schools are moneymakers and profit centers.
It's a great paper that succinctly excoriates the law schools and, by implication, the ABA that accredits them.

The other article is the famous recent New York Times piece, Is Law School a Losing Game.  The content is nothing new, and while this article may not be a scholarly paper like Dolin's, it is profound because it was featured in a preeminent newspaper, exposing millions of non-lawyers to the truth.  Many readers probably believed that becoming a lawyer was like purchasing a golden ticket to the gravy train.  This op-ed probably discouraged some pre-laws from fucking up their lives and it probably dampened parents' and families' enthusiasm for sending their kids to law school.

Here is one of the gems from near the beginning of the article.  Once again, the ABA is implicated as a promoter of the law school scam.
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.  And the survey’s guidelines, which are established not by U.S. News but by the American Bar Association, in conjunction with an organization called the National Association for Law Placement, all but invite trimming.

A law grad, for instance, counts as “employed after nine months” even if he or she has a job that doesn’t require a law degree.  Waiting tables at Applebee’s? You’re employed.  Stocking aisles at Home Depot?  You’re working, too.
(Emphasis is mine.)
The surveys themselves have a built-in bias.  As many deans acknowledge, the results are skewed because graduates with high-paying jobs are more likely to respond than people earning $9 an hour at Radio Shack.  (Those who don’t respond are basically invisible, aside from reducing the overall response rate of the survey.)
Here is a profound quote from Professor Henderson.  He has the cajones (and I assume tenure) to come out and identify, in public, the only real solution to the problem of JD overproduction:
Solving the J.D. overabundance problem, according to Professor Henderson, will have to involve one very drastic measure: a bunch of lower-tier law schools will need to close.  But nobody inside of the legal establishment, he predicts, has the stomach for that.  “Ultimately,” he says, “some public authority will have to step in because law schools and lawyers are incapable of policing themselves.”
(Emphasis is mine.)

I have been saying this since long before I started this blog.  The solution is not to increase the preparedness of new lawyers.  Practical skills training might make us feel better, but it won't address the real problem.  Rather, the only real solution is JD birth control.  Since the law schools have a financial interest in JD overproduction, some outside authority will need to step in.  Perhaps the student loan spigot will be shut off when the bubble bursts and impoverished unemployed and underemployed JDs begin defaulting on their law school student loans in mass or having their federal loans discharged by Income Based Repayment (IBR).  Humanitarian concerns probably won't end the law school scam.  Instead, economic practicalities might catch up to it, eventually.

Hopefully these two pieces are just the beginning of a tidal wave of information that will change the general public's perception of the value of law school and higher education.

For those of you who are wondering about the JDs Rising reference in the post title, here is a link to the post I was referring to: Dear Law School: It's all your fault.  Signed, recent grad.

EDIT: The ABA Journal just reported a story that is a great example of how JD overproduction can act as a disservice to the public and how it can encourage unethical behavior.  In this case an inexperienced (and probably desperate for business and income) lawyer defended a client in a murder trial, but was in over his head.  Also, according to the ABA Journal's report, it sounds like he may have even attempted to engage in something akin to witness tampering.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mayhem in Madison

If you've been following the national news, then you've probably seen videos of the large teacher and state employee protests in Madison, Wisconsin.

The protesters are challenging the Republicans' and new governor Scott Walker's plan to end state employee unions' ability to engage in collective bargaining.  As I understand it, the Republicans are hoping to cut state employee's pay, health benefits, and pension benefits.  They claim that state employees receive higher compensation than workers in the private sector and that since Wisconsin has a large budget deficit, it can no longer afford generous benefits for state employees.  These claims are probably factual.

The proposed pay and benefit cuts might be justified, and they may make economic sense.  What does this foretell for the future of the American middle class?  How did our nation's economy devolve to this point?  Earlier today I heard a radio interview where a supporter of the new policy said that the problem is that state employees are receiving more compensation than people in the private sector.  I disagree.  I think the root cause of the problem is that our nation's economy and labor markets are depressed and have been trending downward for years resulting in compensation and job security inferior to that of state employees.  In other words, the problem is not that teachers and state employees are paid too much; the problem is labor market conditions that dictate low pay for everyone else.

Unfortunately, the proposed Wisconsin cuts are not the opening shot in a war against the American middle class.  Rather, it's just another salvo in a war that our politicians (on both sides of the aisle) and the wealthy elite have been waging against the lower classes for decades.  Presumably, Wisconsin's budget deficit is the product of a vicious circle of decreasing tax revenue and an increased demand for social welfare services (unemployment compensation, welfare, etc.).  Increased unemployment and underemployment decreases state tax revenues and increases the need for social welfare services.

As I pointed out in my last post, our nation's job markets have been racked by global labor arbitrage.  Over the past several decades our government's economic policies have displaced American workers and depressed their wages by sending millions of jobs (including many knowledge-based jobs) overseas, by importing hundreds of thousands of foreign workers on H-1B and L-1 visas to displace college graduates, and by encouraging millions of poor immigrants to flood into the country, displacing lower class Americans from their jobs and putting downward pressure on their wages.  (Does your nation have unemployment and underemployment problems?  Do millions of people live in poverty?  Solution: import millions more poor people and send jobs overseas.  Brilliant!)

Thus, it was inevitable that Wisconsin and other states would eventually be forced to reduce compensation for teachers and state employees.  Public school teachers and other state employees could enjoy decent pay and generous health and pension benefits for only so long while the rest of the populace became increasingly impoverished.  It's easy to understand how taxpayers could resent state workers' job security, yearly raises, and generous benefits.  (Pension? Who the hell has a pension these days other than government employees and perhaps some unionized auto workers?)

What many people don't realize is that the unions they resent also benefit non-union workers in various ways.  It's regrettable that they are too ignorant to direct their ire at the real causes of our nation's and states' economic problems.  Instead, middle class Republican supporters and union busters are unwittingly cheering on the the demise of solid, secure middle class jobs in the name of fiscal responsibility and free market principles (which they hold in a manner akin to zealous belief in religious dogma).

Welcome to the plight of the American middle class, Wisconsin public school teachers and state workers.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Congress and the White House battle over the budget but won't fight the real war

What do you do when, as a result of widespread economic malaise, your nation's tax revenue can't keep pace with your nation's expenditures and states' and the populace's need for federal government spending (impoverished and unemployed Americans) has exploded?  Would you address the root cause of the problem--your nation's economic malaise, or would you address a symptom of the problem--an exploding federal budget deficit?

Congress and the White House have decided to valiantly address the budget deficit while completely failing to even acknowledge the existence of our nation's fundamental economic problems.  By squabbling over the budget, they can fool the sheeple and the Tea Partiers into thinking that they are hard at work.  However, in reality Congress and the White House are blithely distracting the American people from our nation's real problems.

Of course, Congress wouldn't consider increasing tax revenue by raising taxes on the rich, a class of purportedly downtrodden folks who are enjoying all of the increased riches that have come from alleged productivity gains and who seem to own increasing percentages of the nation's wealth.  They wouldn't dare consider tax increases because it would be like cutting off their noses to spite their faces.  Why would you want to bite the hands that feed you with campaign contributions?  Besides, Tea Party morons and Joe-the-Plumber types would regard that as an assault against everything America stands for even though higher taxes for the rich would be in their own rational economic self interest.  (I might be poor working stiff today, but I'm planning to own a business if I ever get my plumber's license!)

If the Republicans and Democrats really wanted to address our federal (and state) budget problems they could start by resurrecting our nation's comatose economy.

(1.) Over the past several decades our government has allowed millions of formerly middle class jobs to be sent overseas, which increased domestic unemployment and social welfare expenditures.

(2.) Then Congress allowed businesses to further depress wages and to displace Americans from often college-education-requiring, knowledge-based jobs (the ones Americans are supposed to retrain and reeducate for) by importing hundreds of thousands of foreigners on H-1B and L-1 visas.  The resultant laid off, unemployed, underemployed, and student loan-ridden Americans also increased the need for domestic social welfare expenditures.

(3.) Then our government allowed corporations to further depress wages and displace Americans by allowing tens of millions of impoverished immigrants to enter the country (legally and illegally).  Aside from having to spend money on health care and education (Arizona, California, etc.) for imported poor people and their families, the government also needs to spend money on social welfare for resultant unemployed Americans and working poor Americans whose wages have been further depressed.

In other words, federal government policies have exposed the U.S. economy to an economic force called Global Labor Arbitrage.  In essence, our nation's economy and job market are being merged with the economies and job markets of billions of impoverished people in the third world (Mexico, India, China).  Anyone who understands basic economics knows that when you increase the supply of a good (such as the supply of labor) relative to a static demand (capital, jobs, the need for employees) that the price point (wages, purchasing power, standard of living) must decrease.  Basically, the U.S. standard of living is going to average out with that of the third world.  Lost middle class jobs are being replaced with poverty wage jobs.

What a brilliant economic policy!  Of course, it benefits the wealthy who own the businesses that can now purchase labor at much lower price points, allowing them to keep a larger percentage of the value of a worker's contribution to the act of wealth production.  Prices for goods and services haven't decreased in proportion with Americans' decreasing wages, so in a sense this is a wealth transfer from the lower and middle classes to the rich.

Consequently, tax revenue is decreasing or at least failing to keep pace with the increasing need for social welfare (and warfare) expenditures.  In response, Congress and the White House want to balance the federal budget deficit without acknowledging our underlying economic problems.  Ever heard of a tariff?  Has the thought of completely eliminating the H-1B and L-1 visa programs crossed your pea-sized Tea Bagger minds?  How about a moratorium on immigration and deportation of all the illegals?  Traitorously, instead of addressing our nation's fundamental economic problems, our Congressmen are going to accept that the U.S. is now impoverished nation.

It gets even better!  Obama thinks that the solution is for Americans to go to college.  This way Americans will be prepared to fill the knowledge-based jobs that were sent overseas or taken by visa holders.  Selling education to the American sheeple assuages a panicked and terrified populace and tricks them into believing that they are unemployed and underemployed because they either don't have enough college degrees and/or just aren't good enough to compete for work. What's sad is that Americans are imbibing this message like Kool-Aid at Jonestown.

White House?  Congress?  Republicans?  Democrats?  Genius!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Why claims that college degrees have value for "alternative careers" are almost always horse puckey

College presidents, deans, and professors are very much aware that many of their students (if not most depending on the field) will not find jobs in their fields of study.  To assuage their guilt and the concerns of their students (aka meal tickets), academic and industry shills attempt to sell students on the value and promise of "alternative careers".  "Don't fret. You can do anything with a (insert major here) degree!", they exclaim.

For example, if you're slaving away in a science laboratory working towards your PhD. and lamenting the prospect of having to invest several more years afterward working as a low-paid ($30,000/year often without benefits or job security) and overworked (think 65-70 hours per week) gypsy scientist postdoctoral researcher, don't lament the lack of solid career jobs for scientists.  Look on the bright side! Now you too can pursue an alternative career!  In fact, years ago Science magazine (a very prestigious flagship publication) even started a "Science's Next Wave" website, perhaps in part or wholly to assuage graduate students' and prospective graduate students' career anxieties.  (This is important to the industry because academic science research and undergraduate teaching assistant instruction would grind to a halt without armies of science graduate students. It's a pyramid scheme.)  I haven't paid attention to Science's Next Wave for years, but if I remember correctly, in the Nineties alternative careers were regularly discussed.

In the heavily glutted legal profession we have books such as "The Lawyers Career Change Handbook: More than 300 Things You Can Do With a Law Degree".  That's just one of the many advice books aimed at unemployed and underemployed lawyers.  The legal field is so heavily glutted that the market can support several different books, such as the aptly named Alternative Careers for Lawyers.)

Almost all of the academics' and institutions' claims are bullshit.  If our nation had a glut of people in only two or three fields and shortages in many others, then the claims of wonderful alternative careers might be truthful.  However, for years, even before the recession, we have had oversupplies of college graduates in just about every field.  How are graduates supposed to find alternative white collar career jobs if graduates in almost all of the other fields are also having to pursue alternative careers?  How are you supposed to compete for a job in another field when people who majored in that field are desperately competing for those same jobs?  Thus, claims by academics that the overproduction of graduates in their fields is justified because their graduates can find alternative white collar careers in other fields are almost completely disingenuous.  Consequently, according to one study, 17 million college graduates are working in (presumably low-paying non-white collar) jobs that do not require or make real use of a college education.

Hoping that unemployed and underemployed graduates can build productive and financially rewarding lives working alternative careers is a nice gesture, but it won't address our nation's social and economic problems.  Instead, the solution is to restore some sense of market forces to higher education so that college graduate production more closely matches the real world demand.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

College Tuition Insanity: Tuition Increases Outpace Inflation (a visual)

I just found a chart that shows how the price of college tuition has dramatically outpaced inflation, including health care costs.  I think it provides a great visual of what happens when market forces (such as the ability to discharge loans in bankruptcy) are completely removed from higher education and when student loans are passed out like candy on Halloween.  The chart seems to show a doubling of college tuition costs since 2000 whereas health care costs have only increased by about 53%. You can find it at the DShort blog.

Coincidentally, as tuition has skyrocketed, the value of a college education has plummeted.  It's too bad we can't quantify and plot the decreasing value of a college degree and juxtapose it with a plot of the increasing tuition on the same chart.  In the meantime our politicians and media pundits are still hawking higher education as a solution to our nation's economic problems and even people with Down Syndrome can go to college today.

This chart is from the DShort blog.

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