Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jobs disappear, lemmings fill out law school applications

It's the circle of life, folks.

The title of the article is promising:  "Law schools lure fewer students as jobs dry up."  And yet the article is full of anecdotes, mostly centered on prospective law students in Missouri, that make me want to smash my face into my keyboard.  Here is the opening act:

Tenia Phillips has heard the horror stories about life after law school, circa 2011, from crushing student loan debt to recent graduates serving coffee at Starbucks.
The reality check didn't deter the 27-year-old Waco, Texas, resident from pursuing her childhood dream, though it took four years of working as an apartment leasing agent before she could start fall classes last week at the University of Missouri law school.
"I had gotten to the point in my life where it was either now or never," she said. "Nothing in life is guaranteed. The job market can go back up again or back down."

That's not true, Tenia.  One thing is guaranteed, and that is the non-dischargeable nature of your future debt load.


James Leopold, executive director of the National Association for Law Placement, said such criticism "adds to that culture of doubt surrounding legal education."
"The whole economy of delivering legal services, and the structure of these services, is changing," he said, describing changes that include a move to "offshore" legal jobs as well as a growing reliance by corporations on contract attorneys rather than in-house counsel.
"Are we producing too many lawyers? It's a question I can't answer," Leopold said.
 Really, Mr. Leopold?  You can't answer that question?

There are some bright spots in the article, which mentions that schools such as the University of Delaware and SUNY-Stony Brook have shelved their plans for a money trap law school.  As I said in a prior post, all press is good press.  But it saddens me, once again, that these students saw the writing on the wall and took the plunge anyway.


  1. It's seen in other fields too. People plunge in thinking that they will be on of the lucky ones to beat the odds. What has happened to others, well it won't happen to them. If they didn't believe this, how else could they go ahead with their disastrous plan?

  2. That's the story I hear a lot. People know the odds are bad, but they do it anyway because they think all it takes is hard work. We are told from childhood that if we work hard, the sky is the limit. I feel really bad for the parents, who actually thought they were saying something true.

  3. This business of going to graduate school in an attempt to "cure" a useless undergrad degree will continue for a while, at least until the Boomers exit the stage parentally.

    To their generation, raised in that short-lived bountiful cornucopia known as the "Post World War Two" economy, higher education ALWAYS paid off. People with BA's in English, in that generation, ended up with lifetime white-collar jobs at General Motors. This will therefore always be the perception of that generation and it is reflected in their kids, today's lemmings.

    The Boomers, particularly the early ones, thought they hit a triple when they were in fact born on third--the recipients of a set of very temporary conditions resulting from a wrecked Europe, a devastated Japan, and a yet-to-emerge Pacific Rim. As the saying goes, those days are over, and hence, so are the days when a degree, any degree, will be of benefit.

    This is the new normal.

  4. @10:54 -- That is a tragically perfect analysis.

  5. At 10:54.

    I have been saying what you posted for years. When I explain it to my father (a baby boomer) he always has an answer. We are on the verge of seeing the educational industrial complex change forever.

  6. @ Sept 2, 10:54PM

    I have seen similar comments to yours on TTR over the past 6 or 8 months or maybe longer.

    Maybe that was you, or maybe not.

    But yes, you pretty much give a plausible or at least a seemingly believable "Forest" or macro explanation for many of the issues that are the trees that we all blog about Re Law School and Higher ed. in general.

    And parental attitudes are hard to overcome, in any age, and especially in a time of great change, such as ours is.

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