Here’s a fun one: when is a tuition freeze not really a freeze? When can you use a tuition cut to mask a tuition hike?
These are the kind of fun things you can do when you are running an American law school now that your prospective law students have not yet learned how to read the fine print.
There’s a school getting some press today for dropping its out-of-state tuition down to the level of its in-state tuition. What’s getting less press is that part of the plan is to raise in-state tuition by six percent….
It’s a little bit early for tuition hike season, but in a few weeks, we’ll start getting stories about law schools raising tuition on students just because they can. We say it every year, and we’ll say it again this year, but it appears that law school tuition is one of the only things that is recession-proof.
Law salaries remain flat. Law applications are even down, but that doesn’t necessarily mean tuition will follow. Here’s how committed law schools are to raising tuition: they’ll raise tuition and then give high-achieving students scholarships to offset the increase. It’s as if low-achieving law students are subsidizing tuition for high-achieving law students at schools across the country.
Law schools are willing to do whatever it takes to keep making the tuition number go up. At Miami, they raised tuition and then (after we asked about it) gave 2Ls a “waiver” from the hike.
It goes up at Duke. Last year, tuition went up at Duke Law School by 4 percent. Why? Why was the money needed during a time of extreme challenge in the legal job market? Who knows? It’s not like Duke is required to explain itself to students.
But this year, some Duke Law students are trying to make the administration understand that the “standard” tuition hike doesn’t make any sense for the students at the school….
We’re already quite confident that we’ll move up in the rankings again. We think we’ll be solidly in the top 25 and certainly in to the top seven or eight of all publics. But moving downtown isn’t about rankings. It’s about the mission of this law school.
(We mentioned previously that this proposed move would potentially come at a cost to students in the form of higher tuition, but Dean Sylvester now claims he’s “very hopeful” that there won’t be a tuition hike.)
In the past few months, those involved in legal academia have been going back and forth over whether the cost of law school tuition is “too damn high.” Many would argue that it is, considering the fact that even during the height of the recession, some law schools instituted across the board tuition hikes. Even now, when repeated calls have been made for reduced class sizes, law school tuition continues to rise to make up for the lost revenue those additional students would have provided.
This problem, they say, needs to be remedied immediately — before the law school tuition bubble pops — so that we can avoid additional problems down the line. Because after all, as my colleague Elie Mystal noted in 2010, “Law school tuition might be recession proof, but student debt repayment is not.”
If we continue on this way, we may be looking at some pretty scary numbers in the future….
We’ve been writing about shrinking law school class sizes for quite some time now. At first, it seemed like a trend. But then more and more schools started doing it, some voluntarily and some not-so voluntarily (although those schools will likely claim that it was their idea all along).
In this time of struggle in the legal job market, with constant chatter about the unconscionability of student loan debt, you’d think that almost all law schools would be on board with the idea that smaller class sizes will ensure the likelihood of employment for their graduates. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. It appears that a school other than Cooley Law (which just opened its fifth campus) has hopped aboard the MOAR LAW STUDENTS train.
* Chief Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit, the judicial diva herself, will be stepping down from her role at the head of the bench earlier than expected, due to “family issues.” Perhaps she told someone to “shut up” too many times? [Tex Parte Blog]
* Apple asked U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to deny Samsung’s request that she bar all further communication with trial jurors, because the company claims it wants “equal access to information” (aka jury foreman Velvin Hogan). [Bloomberg]
* “[T]here’s no way to preserve the definition of marriage [as one man and one woman] other than by preserving the definition. It becomes somewhat circular.” That, and you rely on law from 1885. Argh! [BuzzFeed]
* ASU Law wants to move from Tempe to Phoenix, and to make it financially feasible, the school may increase enrollment and raise tuition. Sound like a good idea, prospective law students cash cows? [Arizona Republic]
* Now compare/contrast: Stanford Law had to dip into its coffers to come up with the cash to cover its financial aid promises this year, but the school isn’t cutting out a dime that’s owed to students. [National Law Journal]
* Massachusetts appealed the Michelle Kosilek sex-change ruling. The state claims it provided “adequate medical care,” but it’s questionable whether that was the case if the prisoner tried to castrate herself. [CNN]
* Tully Rinckey, a midsize firm, is planning to open an office in Buffalo, New York, so it sent out recruitment letters to 5,469 attorneys in the region. Unemployed law grads: open the letter, it’s not a bill! [Buffalo News]
* What happens if a Supreme Court clerk violates the Code of Conduct and leaks information to the press at the behest of a justice? At worst, he’d probably be forced to wash dirty socks from the SCOTUS morning exercise class. [National Law Journal]
* “[T]he great expectations when he was elected have not come to fruition.” Making judicial nominations wasn’t a high political priority, so President Barack Obama will be ending his term with just 125 lower-court appointments in the federal judiciary. [New York Times]
* If there’s anything that Paul Ryan’s good at, it’s soliciting money from lawyers and Biglaw firms. Alston & Bird tops the list of legal campaign contributors, with Patton Boggs in a close second. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]
* Apparently the female reproduction system shuts down to prevent conception upon rape. This improbable tidbit from a man who sits on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. [Wall Street Journal]
* But a great way to take some of the heat off of the “legitimate rape” dude is to break news about another Congressman’s nude swim in the Sea of Galilee while in Israel. Excellent work on this distraction. [POLITICO]
* What crisis? Despite a steep decline in applicants, the average law school’s tuition will climb by more than double the rate of inflation this fall. It’s really heartwarming how they put students first. [National Law Journal]
* Customs agents in Los Angeles seized 20,457 pairs of faux Christian Louboutins that would’ve been worth approximately $18M. For this heinous crime of fashion, the offending shoes will undergo a trial by fire. [CNN]
* Karma sure is a Blitsch. Matthew Couloute, the alleged lawyerly Lothario who got slammed by his exes on LiarsCheatersRUs.com, is now being slammed by someone else: his soon-to-be ex-wife. [New York Post]
* Beauty school dropout, no pube hair trimming days for you! Seventeen female plaintiffs have alleged that a cosmetology instructor subjected them to less-than-sanitary lessons in a federal suit. [New York Daily News]
This may sound like advice coming from a broken record, but in case you are somehow still unaware of this very important fact, you generally cannot discharge your law school loan debt in bankruptcy. Sure, there’s an “undue hardship” exception to this steadfast rule, but it’s a difficult standard to meet.
The government will go to the ends of the earth to prove that you are capable of paying back what you owe and just unwilling to do so. To be frank, you’d probably be better off becoming totally and permanently disabled or dying, because then you or your estate would only have the ensuing tax nightmare to deal with.
Judges know that the burden of “undue hardship” is a difficult one to prove, and most of them probably think that it’s a load of crap. Unfortunately, most of them are unwilling to say so. But not this Oregon judge — she launched into a pointed, four-page critique of legal education, while ruling on a law school debtor’s attempt to discharge his student loans in bankruptcy.
No, she won’t grant you a discharge, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it. You know it’s going to be good when a judge cites to Above the Law while discussing student loans….
Hot on the heels of the news that administrations of the LSAT are down 16% from last year, we now know that the number of students applying to law school has also declined. But just how bad are the numbers? Let’s just say that applicants and applications for this cycle have “dropped precipitously.”
It would seem that people have finally gotten the message that going to law school won’t necessarily guarantee financial success, much less a job as a lawyer. These days, prospective law students are more in tune with reality, and they obviously don’t like the pictures of law school doom and gloom that have been displayed prominently in the mainstream media.
But that doesn’t mean that people are going to stop applying to law school, or even that they should. So, for these prospective law students, does news of fewer applicants mean that tuition prices will drop, too?
* Obamacare’s individual mandate may be in jeopardy, and it’s all because of that stupid broccoli debate. No, Scalia, as delicious as it is, not everyone would have to buy broccoli. [New York Times]
* Biglaw firms aren’t going away, but thanks to the recent onslaught of partner defections to small law firms, their high hourly rates might soon be going the way of the dodo. [Corporate Counsel]
* The “good” news: Northwestern Law will be limiting its tuition hike to the rate of inflation. The bad news: next year, it will cost $53,168 to attend. I officially don’t want to live on this planet anymore. [National Law Journal]
* A Littler Mendelson partner is recovering from a stabbing that occurred during a home invasion. On the bright side, at least he’s not a partner at Dewey — that’s a fate worse than being stabbed these days. [Am Law Daily]
* Law school applicants are dropping like flies, but some law schools were able to attract record numbers of students. UVA Law must have some real expertise in recruiting collar poppers. [The Short List / U.S. News]
* “I have a suggestion for you; next time, keep your [expletive] legs closed.” O Canada, that’s the basis of one crazy class action suit, eh? Dudley Do-Right would never treat a female Mountie like that. [Globe and Mail]
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: email@example.com.
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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