Education / Schools, Student Loans

Minnesota: Protects College Students, Sticks it to Law Students

Minnesota Tuition hike law.JPGThe state of Minnesota is providing more evidence that law schools are completely out of whack with the current market realities. The state is doing what it can to keep undergraduate tuition low, at the expense of law students who will be drowning in so much debt they’ll need to grow gills.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports the most recent tuition proposal coming out of Minnesota:

Undergraduates catch a break in the next University of Minnesota budget that would keep their tuition increases low despite a cut in state funding.
Graduate and professional students won’t have the same luck.
The students who make up about 40 percent of the student body are the hidden victims of a bad-news budget that the Board of Regents is expected to vote on Wednesday.

By “graduate and professional students” the paper really means to say law students. The proposed tuition hike is larger for future (unemployed) lawyers than other graduate students:

While in-state undergraduate students will face 3.1 percent tuition hikes, most grad students could see a 7.5 percent increase in their bills this year. First-year medical students’ in-state rate may rise 5.2 percent, to $32,328. Newbie Minnesotan law students could pay 15.3 percent more than their counterparts did last year.

Are Minnesota state officials even nominally aware of what is going on in the legal market in their own state? Could somebody point the Board of Regents to after the jump?

Jack Corrects Law firm problems.JPGEarlier this month, we reported that Dorsey & Whitney lead the charge for cutting salaries among top Minnesota-based law firms. After Dorsey’s cuts, Minnesota Lawyer pointed out that Dorsey could be leading a trend towards lowering associate salaries:

Locally, Dorsey & Whitney last week fired the first shot in what threatens to become a full-fledged big firm salary retreat by making a 10 percent across-the-board cut in associates’ pay. Starting pay at Dorsey had reached $120,000 a year locally during the height of the salary wars, but since the start of the year salaries at the firm have been frozen in place. (The 10 percent salary decrease was announced the same day the firm laid off 55 support staff, including 38 in its Minneapolis office. While Faegre & Benson and several other big firms in town have also laid lawyers off, Dorsey so far has been able to avoid doing that.)
The salary cut for associates was intended as a “share the pain” approach that protects positions, according to Dorsey managing partner Marianne Short. The move was also in line with Dorsey’s perception of market trends.
“The 10 percent decrease looked to us to be the right piece for associates to bear and also probably consistent with what we think the market will be for associate salaries in the future,” Short said.

Evidently, Minnesota educators don’t really care that lawyers are getting squeezed when it comes time to actually find gainful employment.
But perhaps the bigger question is whether or not potential students understand what is happening in the legal market:

Cost was “a huge factor” in Kevin Lampone’s decision about where to attend law school. His first choice was the University of Minnesota, but other schools offered him enough in scholarships to cover tuition completely. Then he learned that the U would cover half.
“If I hadn’t gotten half paid for, it would have been a very difficult decision,” said the 30-year-old Minneapolis resident, who starts at the U in the fall….
Like students in other fields, Lampone said the amount he’ll take out in loans would partially determine his job after graduation. He hopes to work in public law.
“I was concerned that if I took out too much, I’d have to go to work for a law firm because I would need to have that additional income,” he said. “The cost definitely affects what kinds of jobs you can make work.”

Is this kid freaking kidding me? “Public law.” Really? Your education could become 15% more expensive and you’re worried about being forced to have to work for a law firm? Do you mean one of the firms that isn’t hiring, or do you mean one of the firms that is actively paying people to do the “public law” jobs so that the non-profit organizations don’t have to pay for new employees?
As I’ve said before, I have great sympathy for the classes of 2009, 2010, and 2011. The legal market was pulled right out from under these people. But the class of 2012? Are you really thinking at all?
Have you ever had a single moment’s thought about your responsibilities? Have you ever thought, for a single solitary moment about your responsibilities to your debt obligations? Do you have the slightest idea, what a moral and ethical principle is, DO YOU? Has it ever occurred to you what would happen to your future, if you were to fail to live up to your responsibilities? Has it ever occurred to you? HAS IT??
Somebody give me the bat.
U grad students facing big tuition hike [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]
Will associate salaries tumble? [Minnesota Lawyer]
Earlier: Salary Cut Watch: Dorsey & Whitney Cuts Salaries by 10%

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