Unemployment

A happily employed NYU grad?

Those are real, serious challenges. Stated, those extremes are not representative of what’s going on at NYU or, in my sense, at any other of its immediate peers. I think a question for all leading law schools to answer is to what extent do they feel a need to respond to any of the changing dynamics and challenges in the legal profession.

Trevor Morrison, the newly appointed dean of NYU School of Law, commenting on the problems currently affecting the legal academy, and the elite law schools that he believes have overcome them.

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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This map, courtesy of Matt Leichter at the Law School Tuition Bubble, is a representation of the lawyer glut in America through the year 2011. Things may have changed slightly since then, but this is still a fairly accurate portrayal of the problem the legal profession is facing. If your state is in the red, then your chances of finding a job as a lawyer will be just as slim as your bank account balance.

Wait a second, almost the entire country is in the red. Congratulations, graduates, because it looks like you just walked straight into the Hunger Games of job searches. May the odds be ever in your favor.

So which states are the worst for law school graduates who are desperately in search of work?

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The vast majority of our readers are members of the legal profession in some way — and whether you’re a prospective law student, a current law student, a young associate, or a partner, chances are you’ve all had similar worries about the future and its many uncertainties. Will you be able to find a job? Will you be able to pay off your loans? Will you even enjoy being a lawyer? One thing, however, is for sure: you’d prefer that your children not suffer the same vocational fate as you.

But when it comes to the other members of society, well, they’d just love it if their sons or daughters were to become a lawyer (or marry one). Despite what we know to be true in most cases, it seems that the people who pick up their phones to respond to survey questions have been left in the dark when it comes to the current state of lawyers and their livelihoods.

Take a wild guess at who thinks this career path is still the road to riches….

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Living in a post-Oprah Show world is tough for people like me. Oprah was the one who convinced many that no matter what happens in your life, it’s not your fault. There’s always how your mother treated you, how you were bullied in third grade, your bad relationships, and, of course, the law school that held a gun to your head while showing you fake statistics and promising a job handed to you at the same time you shake the dean’s hand and receive your degree.

While I believe anyone stupid enough to choose a law school based on their job placement statistics should never, ever, ever, be a practicing lawyer, there are many of you out there. Even though you should run as fast as you can to another profession or career, I want to help you at least try to find a legal job so in a year you can realize that the real problem is that you never wanted to be a lawyer anyway — you were just looking for some easy cash, like everyone promised.

As a favor to you, and for the five-figure fees I receive at ATL for writing this column, I provide these little nuggets of weekly advice which are both appreciated (privately) and excoriated (anonymously). I realize one of the problems that causes seemingly intelligent people with law degrees to respond with unintelligible rants about how I “don’t understand” is that I am actually working, as a lawyer. As misery loves company, there is the notion that because I’m not sitting in my parents’ basement lashing out at the computer screen in an effort to convince people not to go to law school, I am just wrong.

So before you throw in the towel and go to that world of becoming a social media rock star, I want you to know that I’m not the only one out there giving you advice that does nothing but anger you. There’s also Anna Ivey….

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Hello again from the 2013 annual education conference of the Association for Legal Career Professionals (aka NALP). People here are very friendly — although, as noted earlier, the law firm folks tend to be more welcoming to us than the law school crew.

That’s to be expected, given our sometimes critical coverage of law schools. We seek to promote consumer awareness when it comes to legal education, but some schools — especially those schools with weaker job outcomes for their graduates — perceive this as an attack.

Yesterday I attended a NALP panel discussion about law school transparency. In the course of discussing what we talk about when we talk about transparency, the panelists provided five defenses that law schools can use when faced with criticism over unemployed or underemployed graduates….

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve brought you a few sets of rankings based on the class of 2011 employment statistics that were used in compiling the 2014 U.S. News law school rankings. These data points — in particular the one concerning full-time, long-term employment where bar passage was required — were the downfall of many a law school. If administrators weren’t looking out for their graduates before, now they’ll be forced to, unless they want to suffer even more in future rankings.

As for the 2015 U.S. News rankings, most law schools already have an idea of the fates they’ll be subjected to when Bob Morse gets his hands on the jobs data for the class of 2012. The fact that only 56 percent of the most recent graduating class were employed as lawyers nine months after graduation is already set in stone, so they’ll have to aim higher when it comes to the class of 2013.

But just because U.S. News hasn’t evaluated the most recent set of employment statistics doesn’t mean that we can’t. Today, the National Law Journal released a study on the latest employment outcomes from all 202 ABA-accredited law schools, ranging from the schools that sent the highest percentages of their class into Biglaw’s gaping maw to the schools with the highest percentage of Article III groupies.

The NLJ also has information on the law schools with the highest unemployment rates, and because we know that our readers are big fans of schadenfreude, we’re going to delve into that data. So which law schools had the highest percentage of graduates willing to review documents for food? Let’s find out….

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When wearing a tie, don’t pop the collar.

Legal education is a hot-button topic these days. Elie Mystal and I have taken our debate on the future of legal education to UNLV and Cardozo Law, in appearances co-sponsored by the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society, and our roadshow hit Georgetown Law earlier today. (If you’d like to invite us to your school, most likely for the fall semester at this point, drop us a line.)

Despite disagreements over proposed solutions, folks generally agree on what needs to be improved. In an ideal world, law school would be less expensive, and legal jobs would be more plentiful. In an ideal world, more than 55 percent of recent law school graduates would wind up with full-time, long-term legal jobs.

But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in the real world, which is imperfect and messy and depressing. Law schools and their graduates have to make the best of a challenging situation.

Which takes me to the practice of law schools employing their own graduates. In an ideal world, law schools wouldn’t have to resort to this. But in the real world, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, at least when it’s done right.

So pop your collars in celebration. UVA, I’m looking at you….

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Some say that models and bottles should be included in a lawyer’s employment benefits package, but failing that, VIP treatment at the local strip club comes in a close second. You just have to make sure you’re getting these perks on the down low, or else you might find yourself in the unemployment line.

That said, if you’re interested in potentially having to fish dollar bills out of your g-string as an alternative career due to your sudden joblessness, then perhaps you should consult with Ari Pregen, an assistant state attorney from Florida. Well, actually, that was his job before he got fired.

You see, when you walk into a strip club and expect to be treated like a king just because you’re a lawyer, you’re going to get yourself into some trouble when your superiors find out about it….

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We are going through a revolution in law with a time bomb on our admissions books. Thirty years ago if you were looking to get on the escalator to upward mobility, you went to business or law school. Today, the law school escalator is broken.

William D. Henderson, a professor of law at Indiana University (Maurer), commenting on the rigor mortis that’s quickly spreading now that everyone’s fantasies of fame and fortune in the once storied legal profession have died.

(Enough doom and gloom. What are law schools planning to do about it?)

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