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….
It’s impolite to criticize how other people spend their money. Some people value guns, other people want butter, and of course, there are always people willing to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars to pursue a useless education.
Debt financing your dreams is always a risky proposition, but it’s socially acceptable to do that if your dream is to be a doctor or a lawyer or a homeowner.
But what if you dream is to be a model? Is it appropriate and socially acceptable to debt finance aesthetic improvements in your body that you believe will take you to the next level modeling greatness?
* Six U.K. firm leaders got together to talk about how to run their practices during challenging economic times. It turns out they’d prefer not to run their firms into the ground. [The Lawyer]
* Look out everyone, because Taylor Wessing, an international law firm that’s known for its IP, media, and telecommunications work, is storming both coasts of the United States in its very own dual office launch Biglaw blitzkrieg. [Am Law Daily]
* “It is a shameful canard that student loans and indebtedness are the cause of high tuition. They are not; they are the symptom,” says a law dean standing up for his students. [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* If you want to go to law school and you’ve got an undergrad degree in a technical area like engineering, then congrats. You might stand to get a job after graduation. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
We know how much our readers love rankings, so this is probably a good time to let you know that the National Jurist has released its eighth annual list of the law schools thought to offer the “Best Value” to law students — usually a list dominated by public schools with a smattering of private schools. The magazine also released its second annual list of the “best value” private law schools at the same time.
The Best Value ranking system typically takes into account a law school’s tuition (weighted 25 percent), students’ cost of living expenses (10 percent), students’ average indebtedness upon graduation (15 percent), the percentage of graduates who got a job after graduation (35 percent), and bar passage rates (15 percent).
What’s so exciting about this year’s list? For starters, the list of the overall “Best Value” list includes the most private law schools to date, in part due to the fact that average indebtedness is down since law schools started tossing out scholarships like Mardi Gras beads just to convince students to enroll.
Let’s take a look at the 2014 “Best Value” rankings…
Please note the UPDATE on the second page of this post.
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…
Between 2008 and 2012, the median debt burden for newly minted JDs increased by 54 percent, from $83,000 to $128,000. (That compares with a 22 percent increase in medical student debt.) It is the responsibility of every aspiring law student to understand the implications of taking on such a financial commitment. For law grads who have already accumulated the debt, there may be options for you to better manage repayment. Thanks to our friends at DRB, today’s infographic takes a look at law student debt, including the possible benefits of refinance or consolidation. Click here for more details.
* Vice Media is doing tremendous work exposing injustices. Perhaps they need to look into their own office. (UPDATE: Vice has changed its ways and now pays its interns.) [Capital New York]
* In a comical bout of karma, a landlord sued its blogger resident for alleged defamation. Next thing you know, HUD inspection records come to light. Let’s just say the landlord should be very unhappy that truth is a defense. [Columbus Dispatch]
* Check out the conclusion of ReplyAll’s conversation with John Grisham. [Above the Law]
* Do you think someone is not happy with Jones Foster’s billing practices?
If you’re a frequent reader of this website, you know that we continuously talk about the effects of law school debt and the need for tuition decreases so young lawyers can go on to lead normal lives after graduation instead of wearing their debt around their necks like slowly tightening nooses.
As time goes by, more and more law schools are starting to listen and reform — though in some cases, we imagine it’s only because they’re now feeling the pain of a decrease in tuition dollars due to low enrollment and smaller classes.
Until all law schools get in gear with the way things work now, we’ve got a list of law schools where life could be good after graduation. At these law schools, the average graduate has a starting salary that outweighs his average debt load…
* Dan Marino was suing the NFL over concussions, becoming the highest profile former player to level a suit against the league. Among his allegations, he claims concussions led him to hold that ball laces in for Ray Finkle. Why do I say “was,” you ask? Because he claims he filed suit accidentally. No greater proof of the dangers of concussions necessary. [Awful Announcing]
* The Supreme Court used to gather in the basement and watch porn together according to Larry Tribe (affiliate link). Best anecdote is Justice Marshall narrating porn to the nearly blind Justice Harlan. You can spoil the ending for Justice Harlan here. [Washington Post]
* It turns out the Brits have their own obsession with law school rankings. Here’s their “league table” for a legal education. [The Guardian]
* An article ponders when firms are going to figure out that recent law school grads are perfect paralegals. Thanks for that kick in the gut. [New Geography]
* Following up on an older story, the Fifth Circuit has withdrawn a ruling made in 2007 upon revelations that one of the judges involved had a financial interest in one of the parties. [Center for Public Integrity]
* Do we need more reasons why Bitcoin is stupid? Ah, it’s used in messy divorces to hide assets. Perfect. [Digital Journal]
* Debt collectors are increasingly giving up on calling you all the time and just seeking default judgments. [Huffington Post]
* From the SUNY Buffalo commencement, Judge Thomas Franczyk and graduate Joey Nicastro took the stage to perform a song for the occasion. Francis Malofiy is already planning to sue them. Video below….
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
Whether you’re fresh off the bar exam or hitting your stride after hanging a shingle a few years ago, one thing’s for certain: independent attorneys who start a solo or small-law practice live with a certain amount of stress.
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