Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Another day, another misleading study from industry apologists

With everything that has been going on in my life over the past few weeks, I missed this trash when it came out a couple of weeks ago.

If you have been keeping up with the blogs recently, you have seen that we have been inundated with articles and studies pointing out that salaries are falling for new attorneys, and that the legal industry is losing jobs.  You might be surprised to find anyone ballsy enough to pretend that there is good news for recent law graduates.

Enter NaTTTional Juri$t.  This sickening publication should be familiar to all current law students or recent grads.  At my school, there were bins of it all over the place for people to read between classes.  Sandwiched between advertisements for foreign study programs and LLM programs ($$$) you will find the occasional article.  Since I graduated I have not had the misfortune of encountering one of these, but someone passed along this article from the website.  Here's the intro, and it is quite a hook:

"Recent law school graduates on average have more disposable income than they did ten years ago, this despite higher student loan debt and a worsened job market, according to an exclusive study by National Jurist magazine."

Really??  Despite higher student loan debt and a worsened job market, I should have more disposable income than law grads ten years ago???  THERE  IS HOPE!  Tell me more, tell me more... like, can I buy a car?

Not so fast:
"But that is not true for graduates who get jobs at the smallest law firms, or for those underemployed or unemployed. Students entering private practice with a law firm between two and ten attorneys saw an 8 percent decline in standard of living from 1998 — largely because salaries dropped from the Class of 2008 to 2009. But, if the students take advantage of the income-based loan repayment plan that took effect in 2009, their standard of living actually increases by 26 percent." 
So basically their point is this:  if you land a job at a big firm, your standard of living will be significantly higher than similarly placed law graduates ten years ago.  True or not, this issue is moot for the vast majority of recent graduates.  Their second point is that if you work in public interest or government, your standard of living will be a modest 6% better than similarly situated graduates a decade ago.  I am almost willing to believe that. Many schools now have loan repayment options for recent graduates in public service (if you can qualify for them), so it is a possibility.

But the misleading conclusion that the study draws is that recent law graduates in general have more disposable income.  When so many recent law graduates are either unemployed or flipping burgers, how can that possibly be the case?

I do not doubt that the new loan repayment options have helped some people.  But what about the unemployed?  Don't they count?  You can't publish a study that almost completely ignores an entire, substantial demographic and expect to draw anything meaningful from it.  As the NY Times pointed out, the unemployed have become invisible.


  1. Nice catch. The National Jurist is edited by legal education Lysenkoists.

    The IBR claim is nonsense because it ignores opportunity cost. A student who stayed in the workforce for three years instead of going to law school would save more and could write off the disposable income difference from IBR payments.

  2. "But that is not true for graduates who get jobs at the smallest law firms, or for those underemployed or unemployed. :

    LOL, the shills neglect to mention this segment comprises 90% of all law grads. The big corporate firms will never hire like they used to. Law sucks!

  3. Nice catch indeed! I love how the article just makes casual reference to unemployed and underemployed graduates, as if this were a small percentage of law graduates.

    The facts, of course, are that we graduate about 50,000 law students every year and only have about 25,000 legal jobs to apply for.

    So . . . .

  4. To be fair to National Jurist, they did give the "scamblog" movement publicity prior to the NYT article, IIRC. That said, I think it's telling that they can't give the thing away for free.

    I love when these "studies" exclude the unemployed, changes in parental income, changes in the average law student, opportunity cost, etc.

  5. Rose,

    NaTTTional Juri$TTT magazine is owned by an American University Commode of Law grad who NEVER practiced law. His name is Jack Crittenden, and his rag serves as an advertisement haven for third tier commodes, fourth tier trash pits, and provisionally-accredited piles of garbage. Those condom machines inside truck stop restrooms have more in-depth analysis and credibility than CriTTenden's fish wrap.

    Great find, by the way.

  6. Hey, check this out. http://www.sagecoalition.org/content/advocacy

    Doing away with subsidized loans is on the table?!?

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