A couple of months back, Jordan Weissmann of Slate and our own Joe Patrice got into an entertaining little dust-up over Weissmann’s assertion that “Now Is A Great Time To Apply To Law School.” The various arguments ranged over — among other things — the available data from the ABA and the BLS, the scholarship of Michael Simkovic and Brian Tamanaha, and the impenetrable mystery that is the “JD Advantage.” We’ll let readers determine who got the best of the debate. (Hint: Joe did.) But as pundits squabble over the value of a JD or the wisdom of the applying to law school in 2014, what are current would-be law students themselves thinking?
Recently, in collaboration with our friends at Blueprint Test Prep, we conducted a survey of 400 Blueprint students studying for the October 2014 LSAT. (We conducted an earlier, different 0L survey in conjunction with Blueprint back in 2012.) Our goal was to get a snapshot of these 0L’s perceptions of the legal education landscape: will it be harder or easier to get admitted? What are the most important factors in choosing a law school? What are law school admission officers looking for? What are employers really interested in?
Read on to see what we could glean from the 0L mind, including their thoughts on why fewer people are taking the LSAT and applying to law school, even as some — à la Weissmann — predict the demand for lawyers will outstrip supply the supply of law school graduates in 2016.
If your Facebook news feed is anything like mine, by now you’ve probably seen the Slate article encouraging people to “Apply to law school now!”, as well as Joe’s biting reply. The beef has gone back and forth. I’m not going to debate the job numbers; that’s been handled more than ably, and those who are willing to make an honest assessment of the job market already have.
Instead I am going to focus on the human cost of losing the law school lottery….
Elie here. Everybody wants a deal. Everybody wants to “beat the market,” and the internet makes us think that we can. If a baby with an e-Trade app can make money, why can’t you? Buy low, sell high: I’m sure I read that on a bumper sticker somewhere, or maybe in the New Yorker.
Increasingly, the internet thinks it’s identified just the right undervalued asset to snap up at a discount: legal education. The decline in law school applications has been sharp and truly shocking to some. It doesn’t make sense that a law degree would suddenly be much less valuable now than it was 5 or 10 or 20 years ago. The value should rebound. The world still needs lawyers. And if you haven’t noticed, or just disregarded, long-term structural changes in the market for legal services, the fact that every law dean will tell you that the market rebound is right around the corner gives you more confidence in your logical assessment. It’s not like every law dean in the country would lie about the value of their product, right?
We can and will continue to debate the likely future value of a legal education. But can we dispense with the notion that purchasing full-price legal education right now involves “buying low”? You are not buying low, you are buying at historically unprecedented heights. Nobody would put “Buy high, hope to sell at fair market price in three years” on a bumper sticker.
And nobody should be putting that on the internet either….
* As I noted yesterday over at Redline, the defense in the NCAA trial is putting up some terrible witnesses. Here’s another example. The NCAA’s expert wrote a textbook. The NCAA might have wanted to check it out before bringing him on to help defend themselves IN AN ANTITRUST CASE. [Twitter / Stewart Mandel]
* Hong Kong lawyers protesting what they see as China meddling. Honestly can you blame China? Ever since Hong Kong let Batman just swoop in and grab that guy, you can’t really trust the Hong Kong legal system. [Reuters]
Many of you have by now seen the Slate article by Jordan Weissmann published yesterday afternoon entitled Apply to Law School Now! Indeed, many readers sent this particular piece along to us through our tips line, deeply concerned. Indeed, one tip came with the message: “Waiting for Elie’s head to explode in 3, 2, 1…”
Well, we’re here to make a confession. Slate sent us a draft copy of this article to edit and darned if we forgot to email over the redlined copy. This piece is therefore totally on us, guys. Don’t blame Slate.
In the interest of rebuilding Slate’s reputation, we’ve attached our redline so we can see how the article would have read with proper editing….
I shouldn’t laugh at this. A recent law school graduate got completely screwed by her own father and I shouldn’t find it so funny.
But I do. I find it goddamn hilarious. The student actually got a clue halfway through law school and decided to drop out. But her father convinced her to stick it out by promising to pay her tuition. She finished, she graduated, and when it came time to pay the bills, Daddy said, “Sorry, I lied.”
Ha. Hahahahaha. When will law students learn that EVERYBODY IS LYING. You know, except me. EVERYBODY ELSE IS LYING…
Earlier this week, Jim Saksa wrote a piece in Slate entitled “You Can Do Anything With A Law Degree,” where he argued that you can’t do everything with a law degree despite the propaganda of the law school-industrial complex. Apparently he didn’t realize you could herd sheep. All in all, it was a great addition to the growing pushback to the lie that it’s a good idea to blow six figures on a legal education even if you aren’t committed to a life at least tangentially in the law and you get into a microwave law school.
It’s already generated some ridiculous defensive blowback. One carefully constructed rebuttal to the Slate piece, attempting to rehabilitate the “law degree as fashionable accessory” argument, looks on its face like a serious challenge. It’s not….
Is it acceptable to say a friendly hello to a Supreme Court justice if you see one of the nine out in public? That’s the question posed in a recent Dear Prudence column. As a federal judicial stalker an Article III groupie myself, I say yes. Because who knows? The justice might give you an autograph (and some free wine).
But some people don’t need to chase after Supreme Court justices. Some people will get to work closely with the members of the high court as law clerks, crafting the opinions that will rule us all.
Thanks to everyone who responded to our recent request for SCOTUS clerk hiring news for October Term 2014. Let’s look at the updated list of clerks hired so far….
I actually think I may yet get married — statistically 90% of people get married at some point. But I would say that love and craziness has overwhelmed my life, and I am trying to write about it, and at the same time tell the story of New York City from 1609 to the present.
This one escaped our attention for a while, but apparently Slate writer Matthew Yglesias set off a war of words a couple weeks ago with an article about the Zimmerman trial and the role of public defenders. Yglesias, best known for having a much better handle on inflation than Ben Bernanke, waded into legal commentary, contrasting Zimmerman’s trial experience with the experience of indigent criminal defendants.
Former public defenders took offense at the article and have taken to the Internet and social media to rip Yglesias. Yglesias has offered an apology and been rebuffed.
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