Our ongoing ATL School & Firm Insider Survey (take it here!), asks current law students, among other things, “What do you expect to do after you graduate?” A whopping 71% tell us that they expect to work for a firm. (This percentage was consistent across class years.) That this proportion is so high, and so at odds with the NLJ findings, can mean some combination of two things:
The ATL student readership skews heavily toward that minority of students who will actually snag Biglaw gigs.
Many (if not most) expectations of law firm employment will be dashed against the reality of a contracting job market. In other words, a majority of students think they are in the fortunate minority
After the jump, we’ll look at how wide the gap between student expectation and market reality is, even at the “go-to” schools:
Which law school helped her land a fabulous Biglaw job?
The general economy started to turn around last year, but the legal job market remains sluggish. In 2011, many top law schools sent fewer graduates into first-year associate jobs at the nation’s largest 250 law firms than they did in 2010. That’s the bottom-line finding of the National Law Journal’s annual survey of which schools the NLJ 250 firms relied on most heavily when filling first-year associate classes.
The results of the survey should be interesting to current law students and law firm attorneys. And they’re of possible practical import to prospective law students who are now choosing between law schools (or deciding whether to go to law school at all, based on a cost-benefit analysis that pits tuition and student loans against post-graduate job prospects).
So let’s look at the top 10 law schools, ranked by the percentage of their 2011 juris doctor graduates who landed jobs at NLJ 250 firms (i.e., “Biglaw”)….
Now comes the time when law schools tell students that the 2012-2013 academic year will cost more than the 2011-2012 academic year, even though the schools will be providing no additional professional help to struggling graduates.
Some law schools will blame it on state budget cuts to education. Other schools will blame it on weak fundraising. Still others will give you a song and dance about how the increases are necessary to hire top professorial talent, and then there will be some schools who offer the unsaid, “we’re doing it because we can and you’ll just borrow more money to pay us.”
We don’t track every tuition hike, because just about every law school raises tuition every year for one reason or another. But when a law school is brazen enough to raise tuition by a higher rate than other institutions at the university — and expects law students to be too stupid to notice how they’re getting taken advantage of — we tend to notice…
* Merry Christmas! House Republicans will get one less lump of coal in their stockings this year after accepting a two-month extension of unemployment benefits and payroll tax cuts. [New York Times]
* Another birther lawsuit has been thrown out, but Orly Taitz won’t be stopped. She’s like the Energizer Bunny of questionable litigation. She’ll keep appealing, and appealing, and appealing… [Los Angeles Times]
* John Edwards is trying to delay his criminal trial, claiming to have a mystery medical diagnosis. What kind of disease does karma hand you for cheating on your sick wife? [New York Daily News]
Let’s start with the bad news. The bad news is that the Regents, who run the show for the University of California (UC) system, approved an increase in system-wide student fees for the coming year. It’s for a shade over $1,000 — $1,068, to be precise.
The good news: Berkeley Law, at the behest of Dean Christopher Edley Jr., is effectively reversing the fee hike for its students. Boalt Hall is issuing an immediate “scholarship” to each student, in the exact amount of the fee increase.
Let’s take a look at Dean Edley’s email — which explains the situation, and has a cute and clever closing — and explore what might be motivating the administration….
Do you know an easy way for moderately priced public law schools to make even more money? Charge more for tuition. Do you know an easy justification for jacking up tuition rates? Say that you are moving to a “private funding model” while you bemoan the lack of public support for your institution.
After that, it’s all profit baby!
The big news in the law school hot stove league is that another major public law school is toying with moving to a private funding model. The logic for eschewing public funds for an increase in private dollars is, as always, disingenuous. But hey, as long as the law school keeps paying its tithe to the university, few will object to increased gouging of prospective law students…
What your law school dean does when alone at the office.
I, for one, do not think that a person’s salary can or should be used as a proxy for determining whether or not that person is committed to any particular cause. I don’t think people who fight for the poor need be poor themselves. I don’t think people who work for the state should be relegated to the kind of salaries that will convince the best and brightest to never work for the state. I just don’t think a person’s salary is all that indicative of a person’s commitment to doing the right thing.
That said, it doesn’t look good to be putting other people in financial distress while you enjoy a large paycheck, especially when you are in a position of public trust. When you are in a leadership position at a public university, you are expected to be looking out for your students, not just your own bank account.
The salaries of deans from public law schools don’t prove that these people are placing themselves above the needs of their students. They don’t really reflect anything — other than the going rate for a law school dean, in a competitive market for talent. But man, they don’t look good. In fairness, they look awful, given that we’re living in a world where many of these deans are raising tuition on students who for the most part won’t even be able to dream of making the kind of money these deans pull down.
So take a look, but try to remember that if you were in the deans’ shoes, you’d act no differently. You’d take every penny that was offered to you…
It’s a sad state of affairs when a law school holding the line on tuition is breaking news. But with nearly every other law school rushing to bilk students who will pay anything for a legal education (law schools at Stanford, Arizona State, and Minnesota spring to mind), it’s nice to see at least a couple of schools that regard their students as something more than profit centers.
Maryland announced its tuition freeze in December. The National Law Journal reports that Miami recently announced it would be maintaining a tuition freeze already in place. Now UNH Law is joining their ranks. There’s still plenty of room on this bandwagon if your law school would like to take a brief break from molesting your financial future.
Not that UNH Law is cheap, especially for a third-tier law school. But this tuition freeze is another indication that UNH is at least trying to think about legal education in a somewhat realistic way…
I think we’ve all been waiting for this. Last Wednesday, we picked up a report from the Stanford Daily announcing that students at Stanford Law School would be looking at a 5.75% tuition hike for the 2011 – 2012 academic year. That’s significantly larger than the 3.5% tuition hike for the rest of the university.
Given that most Stanford Law students found out the school was jacking up tuition from the Stanford Daily or Above the Law, I’m not surprised to see a school-wide apology from Stanford Law Dean Larry Kramer. And given the fact that the best reason thus far given for Stanford’s tuition hike reduces to “because we can,” I’m also not surprised to see Dean Kramer working hard to spin the story differently.
Do you find him convincing? Read his email and tell us what you think…
If Kanye West were here, he’d say: “The Stanford Board of Trustees doesn’t care about law students.”
Tuition is going up across the Stanford University system. That’s not surprising. We’ve said many times that tuition is “recession proof”; it just keeps going up, regardless of the job market for degree holders.
But Stanford is almost going out of its way to hurt its law students. While the rest of the university will endure a 3.5% tuition hike for the 2011-2012 academic year, Stanford Law School will receive a special 5.75% tuition hike. The law school currently charges $44,880 in tuition alone. Once you include books and other living expenses, the suggested budget for a Stanford Law student is $71,535 per year.
According to the school, that’s a bargain. The school should be charging way more. Why? “Because they can,” said one Stanford Law student we heard from.
When considering how much a Stanford J.D. should cost, the school admits that it’s not looking at the market value of a law degree — it’s simply looking at how much other schools charge for their degree programs, and making tuition decisions accordingly.
Yes, this is more evidence that the price of a law degree has become completely disassociated from the value of a law degree. But it’s also evidence that when the chips are down, Maryland Law cares a lot more about the future success of its students than Stanford…
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.
Non-attorneys would think the stress comes from preparing for a big trial, deposing a hostile witness, or crafting the perfect contract for a picky client.
But that’s nothing compared to the constant, nagging, real-life kind, the kind you get from the day-to-day grind of being a law-abiding attorney.
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