Underemployment

This isn’t the first and it won’t be the last time we have to knock down this ridiculous argument. There’s simply a lot of money invested in making prospective law students believe it.

And it makes a certain kind of sense. We’ve extensively reported on the decrease in law schools applications. We’re at all-time historic lows. It’s a comforting and mathematically banal argument that the lack of applications now will lead to a dearth of law graduates in 2016, which will mean great times(!) for the class of 2016. More importantly, law schools want people to believe those brave enough to apply to the class of 2017 will benefit from an “undersupply” of new lawyers by the time they graduate. I promise you more than half of the class at Cooley actually believe this crap.

The problem, of course, is that it’s not true. It’s not true, and the people who say it’s true have no evidence that it’s true. Heck, there’s an “undersupply” of lawyers right now, if you look at poor and low-income clients. But that hasn’t actually resulted in a vibrant hiring market for new and recent graduates now, has it?

It’s a bad argument, but let’s walk through it so you have something to link to when you hear it from friends who don’t know how to use Google….

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It’s about that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about when ESPN tells you what Ray Lewis and his teammates ate for breakfast along with every other remotely interesting detail of the other Super Bowl players’ lives. Instead, I’m talking about the time that law schools start to really get anal retentive about getting their graduate employment forms back.

I bet some of you readers have already received a couple of emails from your alma mater, each increasingly desperate and frantic as the head of career services threatens to pull his hair out unless you respond. This may seem like a good or even noble task for the school to perform, but let’s take a closer look at what’s really going on….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Gradenfreude: The Employment Questionnaire Lower-Ranked Law Schools Should REALLY Be Using”

‘Which one of you is special?’

Today, the ATL Career Center launches its latest feature: a Pre-Law section, featuring ratings, inside info, and expert advice on law schools, LSAT prep, and the application process. Check it out here.

While law school applications continue to decline and legal jobs are scarce, the business of discouraging people from going to law school is positively booming. There is a mountain of data which would seemingly dissuade anyone from taking on massive debt only to then leap into the clogged toilet of this job market. (And yet, see this compelling analysis that now is actually a great time to apply to law school, especially for lower scoring applicants.)

But what about future law students — are the 0Ls getting these gloomy memos? And how is it shaping their choices?

Recently, in collaboration with our friends at Blueprint Test Prep, we conducted a survey of BluePrint’s summer students studying for the October 2012 LSAT. We had nearly 600 respondents. Our goal was to get a snapshot of these 0Ls’ perception of the legal landscape, including the realities of financing a law school education and the current state of the legal job market.

After the jump, see some of what we could glean from the 0L mind, including a striking disconnect between the “job market” and a “career path”….

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* These are some sad times in Texas, y’all. It really hasn’t been a very good week for the Lone Star state in the courts. First their redistricting plan got thrown out, and now their voter ID law has been struck down. [CNN]

* Jeh Johnson of the Defense Department may take legal action against the former Navy SEAL who wrote a book about the Osama bin Laden raid, calling it a “material breach” of duty. Must be good; go buy it! [CBS News]

* Bros will be bros: disbarment has been recommended for an attorney who failed to disclose to clients that he had been suspended for banging an underage chick who worked at his office. [National Law Journal]

* Here are 15 Northeast law schools ranked by employment rate. After getting excited that mine was on the list — albeit dead last — I realized I’m seriously a low expectation havin’ motherf**ker. [Boston Business Journal]

* George W. Huguely V, the UVA lacrosse player who beat his girlfriend to death, was sentenced to 23 years in prison. Distasteful joke alert: for his sake, we hope the prison uniforms have poppable collars. [Bloomberg]

* A Maryland lawyer with autism and Sensory Processing Disorder has created a way for people to stop getting up in your personal space while riding public transportation. Say hello to the Sensory Shield! [Huffington Post]

Life moves pretty fast in the digital age. Yesterday, we reported on the horrendous decision by Dean Paul Schiff Berman of George Washington University Law School to cut the stipend of GW Law’s “Pathways to Practice” program. The program is for unemployed graduates who get a stipend from the school to take a fellowship while they continue to look for more remunerative work.

When George Washington Law students signed up for the program a month ago — just in time to be counted as “employed upon graduation” — they were told that the stipend would be $15 per hour for a 35-hour work week. But Dean Berman decided that GW Law grads needed more of an incentive to find paying work, and yesterday he announced a plan to cut the stipend by a third, to $10 per hour.

Last night, after an outcry from students (and some bad press), Dean Berman changed his mind and decided to restore funding to the $15 per hour level.

Good times! There’s nothing quite like having to fight and beg for a one-year, $15-an-hour job after paying $45,750 per year in tuition.

In his letter reversing his decision, Berman has recast the reasons for wanting to cut the funding in the first place. I hope the class of 2013 is paying attention, because in the high likelihood that funding is cut next year, this is the justification you should expect to see….

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The conceit of every Republican administration of my lifetime has been that poor people wouldn’t be so poor if they just “worked harder.” The dismantling of the welfare state was fueled by the notion that certain people needed more incentive to find work — as if being on public assistance somehow needs to be more hardscrabble and humiliating in order to really help people.

Now, it seems the same kind of flawed and sheltered logic will be coming to a law school near you. But the kicker is that it’s the students employed by the school, in programs designed to help the school game the U.S. News rankings and fleece the next generation of paying 1Ls, who are being told that they need more of an incentive to find employment.

We’ve got a school scolding students for being too comfortable in the post-graduate employment program the school itself designed to avoid telling the truth to U.S. News….

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On Friday, the American Bar Association released the employment data for the class of 2011 that they collected from their member law schools. By dumping the information on a summer Friday, perhaps the ABA was hoping that nobody would notice the statistics?

Well, we noticed. The numbers are too bad not to notice. Earlier this month we reported on the NALP employment data, and the ABA data here doesn’t look any better. Only 55% of people in the class of 2011 are known to have found employment in full-time legal jobs.

And really, that’s the nice way of putting it….

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