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Matt BRUENIG discovers secret motivation for criticisms of his insights

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Here.

I apologize for the initially dyslexic spelling of Bruenig’s name.

(FWIW, my objection to his piece had nothing to do with his law school reform proposals, which might be worthwhile on grounds other than the ones he gave, since the ones he gave were based on empirical assertions about the employment prospects for law graduates that bear no relationship whatever to reality. How a brand new graduate of a sub-elite law school managed to miss this would be interesting to know).

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  • dp

    Now that he’s a member of the cartel, those mad analytical skills should start to pay off for him.

  • politicalfootball

    I apologize for the initially dyslexic spelling of Bruenig’s name.

    Campso, do you really expect us to think that was unintentional?

  • Peterr

    The difference between someone who earns a degree from law school and someone who is gainfully employed in the practice of law is apparently beyond him.

    But he does understand “average” and math. It’s just English that appears to give him trouble.

    • Nobdy

      It’s worth noting that beyond sample election and all that, basically all statistics about lawyer earnings are A) extremely suspect and B) unlikely to remain static.

      In 1907 the average salary of a buggy whip maker was likely pretty decent. That doesn’t mean it was a good time to go to buggy whip making school or that there was a pressing need to suppress buggy whip maker salaries.

    • Hmm. A bit.

      Medians are not subject to being pulled up misleadingly by a few high earners. Averages are. That’s a basic statistical concept, but I guess the well-worn joke is that lawyers are pretty innumerate.

      Median, as with all measures of central tendency, requires care and feeding. If you have a distribution of 101 people where 50 earn zero 50 earn 200k the median will be whereever that last person goes between the two (e.g., 50k or 150k).

      That being said, I do think Paul’s line was too open to such criticism, though if you look at the rest he’s not arguing that the problem with using the median salary per se is that it is subject to outlier pull like the average, but that if you pluck your stat from the right sample you are going to distort the picture. Thus, median salary for (successfully employed as such) lawyers != median salary for people with JD who passed the bar.

      Now the more straightforward refutation would be to show the median for all JDs or all JDs who passed the bar. That data, as I understand it, is not easily available.

      The overarching point, I guess, is that law school/bar exam is only the first of a series of barriers to being a lawyer these days. Flooding the market by breaking the law schools won’t necessarily break the other barriers.

      • L2P

        The overarching point, I guess, is that law school/bar exam is only the first of a series of barriers to being a lawyer these days.

        Well, in a way Bruenig’s right – law school is TECHNICALLY the only barrier to being a lawyer. You can always provide legal services for free.

        But so long as he’s going to pretend legal services cost money he’s going nowhere.

        • Sure, law school and bar exam are the only de jure barriers, but so?

          The response by so many is that they are not the most significant de facto barriers as the employment stats show.

    • hey so

      Yeah, he’s actually right about the “median” thing: the 113k figure comes from the BLS, which explicitly establishes it at the 50th percentile.

      That being said, the problem with extrapolating anything about even long-term law outcomes from the BLS data (besides the fact that the employment metrics are mainly interested in tracking Pareto Optimality) is it doesn’t track solo practitioner income, which is where you need to look if you’re going to establish a bottom for the cost of legal services.* If $200/hour is the going rate for services, it’s because that’s the minimum a solo can charge while staying in business, based on the number of people coming in the door.

      It’s paradoxical, but further restriction of the number of lawyers from where we are right now might actually cause the cost of legal services to go down, since a given lawyer would have more potential billing opportunities and thus be less reliant on maximizing profit from any given client.

      *at least until such a time as the ABA eases restrictions on non-lawyer ownership of firms and we get H&R Block: Legal Services Edition

      • hey so

        Also, given that

        1) there exists and would continue to exist in the world of legal services the opportunity, however remote, to make gobs of money at a very young age on the basis of nothing other than positional qualifications because sadly rich people exist and will pay for the “best”, and

        2) people already seem quite willing to pay money for Master’s degrees and and the like in hopes of getting ahead in fields without specific degree requirements,

        I’m not convinced that getting rid of the ABA-accredited law school requirement for licensure would even succeed at doing much to law schools themselves.

      • cpinva

        “Yeah, he’s actually right about the “median” thing: the 113k figure comes from the BLS, which explicitly establishes it at the 50th percentile.”

        which he then proceeds to demonstrate his acute ignorance of, by claiming it isn’t subject to change, solely by adding a few high earners to the population. well, of course it would, dumbass! by adding those high earners, you raise the median number, because what was the 50th now becomes the 49th or 48th.

        fucking median, how does it work?

        Christ on a stick, this kid’s a complete effing maroon. well, we now know he didn’t pay for law school, so he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about those who did, with significant debt. what we still haven’t learned is if he’s actually a practicing attorney or not?

        • To be fair, medians are more resistant than means to skew by low numbers of extreme outliers. To push the median around significantly, you have to add more points regardless of their value.

          Now, obviously, medians are indifferent to the shape of the distribution outside the midpoint, so a hugely bimodal distribution and a tightly clustered around the median distribution look the same from the perspective of the median. Similarly, one can bring down the median a lot by flooding the the lower 10th (in terms of salary) and leaving the rest untouched. That presumably isn’t what Matt is after.

          • Barry

            In addition, he doesn’t accept the fact that that media is of actual practicing lawyers. It doesn’t count ex-lawyers or never-got-to-be-lawyers.

  • Nobdy

    Professor Campso, as a notorious supporter of law school rents you simply cannot be trusted on this issue. You will do anything to suppress the truths about lawyers and law schools that this brilliant reporter has discovered. You are especially terrifiied of questioning the value of the current legal education system, which you have thrown your lot in with and now must defend and support to the bitter end. Admit it, Campso, you act out of a combination of self interest and a deep and abiding love, one might even say reverence, for Tyne current law school system.

    • Paul Campos

      Bodby, yuo hvae larend ym scerat.

      Goadmn uyo. Gaodnm ouy ala ot ehll!

      • N__B

        “Beloved TV personality Professor Backwards died in an accident today. Passers-by ignored his impassioned pleas of ‘Pleh! Pleh!'”

      • rea

        “You have hissed all my legal mystery lectures. You have tasted the whole worm.”

        • Bloix

          And you must leave Oxford by the town drain.

  • James Gary

    Confidential to Paul Campos: Why exactly did you dignify Breunig with any attention to begin with?

    • Paul Campos

      Well he did get his nonsense into The Week, which has a very wide readership.

      • T.E. Shaw

        A mile wide and an inch deep, to be precise.

  • Scott Lemieux

    Clearly, if we could only get Cooley and Western New England to graduate a few thousand more students a year, salaries at Boies Schiller & Flexner would come down.

    • Nobdy

      This would in turn achieve justice for the common man because not every lawyer would go into lucrative corporate law straight out of law school. At least a few law grads would be left over to do other things.

      Of Cooley’s current class how many were able to resist the siren’s call of $160k a year and plan public interest careers, for all those public interest law jobs that pay only $40k a year but simply cannot find lawyers willing to do the work because of the Campso cartel and big law gobbling all the graduates up?

  • Sameo

    He makes a good argument , which can also be applied to the medical profession: Make the study of medicine an undergrad program, eliminate the many barriers to entry, and it will drive down the costs of both education and for medical services, for which all of society will benefit.

    I like these libertarians

    • Paul Campos

      No, it’s a ridiculous argument as applied to legal services. The supply of lawyers is not the constraining factor on downward pressure on wages for lawyers, as there is already a massive oversupply of people with law degrees (as in the many hundreds of thousands) relative to the number of legal jobs available.

      • Sameo

        You are only speaking out of self interest

        • Humanities Grad

          How is he possibly speaking out of self-interest? That term, I think, does not mean what you think it means…

          The argument that Paul has made all along is that the legal market in the U.S., at present, is dramatically oversaturated, and that the job market prospects of new legal grads are unlikely to improve soon.

          If correct, one response to this (which is already occurring), is a dramatic decrease in the # of people applying to law schools. A consequence of THAT will be a dramatic decrease in the need for law professors, a group that, last time I checked, still includes Paul.

          He’s engaging in behavior which, from a perspective of narrow self-interest, is irrational. That may be a lot of things, but self-interested isn’t one of them.

          • rm

            I’m pretty sure I detect sarcasm in Sameo’s comments.

      • Nobdy

        How do you explain all those low wage law jobs that go unfilled then? Why I hear it is impossible for a public interest organization to find a lawyer to work for them if they pay less than 0. That’s why all these new law grads are awash with money, which they frivolously spend on models and bottles.

        In fact lawyer spending is the only thing making club bottle service so expensive. If we produce more lawyers, driving their wages down, we can also bring down the inflated price of nightclub bottle service. This is pure logic and is unassailable.

        • sharculese

          All those new law grads are certainly spending money on bottles.

          It’s just that the bottles are Beefeater and Evan Williams.

          • Whiskers

            liquor snob

          • Sameo

            I have found they are more of a Tullamore Dew crowd myself

      • Mondegreen

        I came pretty close to saying this in the other thread, but, spelled out, I think it is an argument everyone can understand:

        There are $400 haircuts and $10 haircuts. Eliminating barber licensing will not lower the price of the $400 haircut. We can debate about what it will do to the $10 haircut. Maybe it will lower the price of the $10 haircut, but 1) the gains to be made there are minimal to the public at large and 2) there’s a break even price where it’s not worth doing the job.

        Even in the deregulated scenario, though, the cheapest price is only being charged by the newest entrants or the least skilled. If an unlicensed barber is really good at it, he’s going to raise his price. The licensing is not what’s determining the price.

        • Manny Kant

          So you disagree with Matt Yglesias about something!?

          • rea

            Why anyone who has seen a picture of Matt Yglesias would pay attention to what he has to say about barbers is beyond me.

            • sharculese

              Harsh.

              But fair.

            • Manny Kant

              Well played.

            • Sasquatch Israel

              I resent your implications, sir.

        • Sameo

          Don’t underestimate the power of perceived prestige as evidenced by the upward sloping demand curve in products like watches, cars, and perfume. Some will only get a $400 haircut to show you who’s your financial daddy

    • This isn’t how it works in medical care. Increased supply of physicians drives increased consumption of services, and costs do not come down. Supply drives demand. There are various ways to correct this problem, but simple free market economics isn’t one of them.

    • Dr Ronnie James, DO

      Quite a few state schools offer BA/MD programs in which you get both degrees in 6 years total. But you can’t make medical training undergraduate because the minimum requirements (roughly speaking: 1 year of Chem, OChem, Bio, Physics, Calculus plus Biochemistry at many schools takes up most of your 4 years.

      More to the point, that doesn’t solve the real problem of medical training in this country: we don’t have enough doctors, particularly primary care doctors. And the reason for that is: not enough slots in medical schools, and financial incentives (higher salaries, high debt loads) that all reward going into specialty care and not primary. What might help would be medical schools that guaranteed good residency slots in primary care (DO schools do this somewhat de facto already), but it still doesn’t address the main problem: we don’t make enough doctors, and med schools turn away a lot of qualified applicants.

      • Manny Kant

        Part of the problem here is that we don’t teach kids anything in high school. In any reasonable world, all of the premed requirements other than organic chemistry would be covered adequately in high school (at least for the kind of student who’s actually going to make it as a doctor).

        And it’s not as though doctors actually have to use physics or calculus, anyway – it’s just a barrier to entry.

        • sharculese

          And that problem can’t be solved until we don’t have states and municipalities jealously guarding their control over education.

          So never.

        • twbb

          Ehhh, I don’t know about that. Some subjects are complex enough that a 20-year-old has a much better chance of learning them than a 16-year-old.

          • Manny Kant

            Given that there’s already way more people who want to be doctors than there are slots for people to become doctors, wouldn’t “able to learn the pre-med curriculum in high school” be a perfectly reasonable barrier to entry to replace the current one?

            • Bill Murray

              as long as you’re OK with basically never having a doctor come from a poor school or a poor area, leading to poor and rural areas having even harder time getting doctors

              • Manny Kant

                Doesn’t that kind of already happen? Anyway, I was saying that we need to improve high school education so that people have access to most pre-med classes in high school, not to just make the changes with our current system.

        • Dr Ronnie James, DO

          Only the top 1-5% of HS students can handle pre-med-level basic science. It’s a great idea to do a kind of pre-pre-med curriculum, but you can’t throw most HS students in such a class and have them succeed.

          But our problem isn’t creating enough students who’ve taken pre-med science courses. We’ve got plenty of those. It’s that we don’t admit enough of those people into med school now now now.

          • Manny Kant

            Well, I guess I tend to think that we ought to do more tracking along the lines of what most other developed countries do, so that students who *can* do this kind of thing aren’t prevented from it. I don’t think I’d at all argue that medical school should *only* be an undergraduate degree, just that I don’t really see why it should be impossible for it to be done as an undergraduate degree.

        • Sameo

          The K-12 education system is just like any other politician in that it kicks the can down the road for someone else to fix. Nobody learns much of value in the K-12 system; That’s the power of the largest lobby in the country. Don’t touch our 180 day work year, pension, and salaries, and we’ll keep feeding sheep to the dream of a college education (totally unprepared in any real skills)

          Government likes it too. People who can’t think, but think they are educated, don’t really ask the tough questions, because they don’t know what they are.

          • DrS

            Nobody learns much of value in the K-12 system

            Right? Who needs to read or write?

            Fucking greedy teachers.

            • Sameo

              You’re making a dangerous assumption

    • atheist

      I like these libertarians

      Bruenig’s very very far from being a libertarian.

  • Anonymous

    Why would he need to be a lawyer? He’s already assuming so many can openers he’ll have the market cornered in six months.

  • BoredJD

    What a fcukhaed

  • ichininosan

    From the comments (Matt Bruenig): “I haven’t got any problem taking from rich kids, not even remotely. It’s a social good anytime money goes from rich kids to poor kids.”

    This was written by a person who apparently (he is being intentionally cagey about this fact) attended on a fellowship at a law school where the majority of students are paying $45K (even after discounts) to attend.

    At the conclusion of this transaction, who is the “rich kid” and who are the “poor kids.”

    http://www.bu.edu/law/about/documents/ABAStandard509December2013.pdf

    • Mr. Cookie

      It’s pretty fucked up. Particularly since the supposed rich kids are taking on loans too.

      I think he just resents anyone from a middle class background and wants to bring them down to where he sees himself so we all suffer together.

      • atheist

        But if the money goes to the poor, then they suffer less.

    • atheist

      Well, at a time when wealth is massively travelling from the poor and middle class to the upper class, why would that actually be a problem?

  • MacK

    One issue Bruenig is very sensitive about – he has a BU fellowship which paid for him to attend BU Law, funded it seems by his classmates. Questions about the fellowship, the fact that his classmates funded it, went into debt to fund it and how much it was in dollars and cents. Pop over to his blog and ask him the question – he has so many reasons for not answering.

    • Paul Campos

      Yes he’s quite the Maoist manque, served with a side of zombie Ronald Coase. It makes for a fairly unusual ideological perspective.

      • MacK

        When I was in college there was a guy known as “Tommy the Commie” – real name Tommy Graham, who was a leading light in the “Communist Party of Ireland (ML)” – ML stood for Marxist Leninist and denoted that they were Albanian line communists. They used to go around with a newspaper, some of which is on the internet. They used to distribute this rag that praised Enver Hoxha, denounced imperialism and the USSR, was ambivalent about the Chinese for abandoning Maoism and really loved the INLA, while really hating Tito. They used to cause chaos at all sorts of union meetings, labour party meetings, Workers Party Meetings etc., where Tommy and (I cannot remember her name) would show up and insist on discussing the dialectic instead of the problem in hand. If you wanted to start a riot you called Tommy a “trot,” at this point.

        Tommy is a bourgeois professor in the US these days. I must dig up a link to their newspaper, it was genuinely hilarious in its own way.

        • sharculese

          Everything about this story is amazing.

        • Paul Campos

          Check out this one:

          I don’t know why everyone has suddenly decided I am talking about lawyer services. I have never mentioned it once. I want to drive down lawyer incomes for its own sake, regardless of what impact it might have on the accessibility of those services.

          Quite the champion of labor. He doesn’t want declining wages for service providers because the savings will supposedly benefit consumers of those services, but simply because he would prefer fewer people to make a decent income, all other things being equal!

          It’s like a right wing paranoid fantasy of progressive political thought.

          • rm

            You’re saying he’s a conservative’s idea of what a progressive sounds like?

            Maybe he is doing a reverse Colbert.

          • Manny Kant

            What the hell? I suppose there’s a tiny number of lawyers who make huge incomes, but most are rather firmly in the upper middle class. It makes sense to want to drive down CEO salaries, or, in a pinch, the salaries of partners at huge corporate law firms. I can’t even begin to understand why we’d want to drive down the median salaries of lawyers.

            • Manny Kant

              Of course, going over there, Bruenig also apparently thinks that earning a household income of $100K makes you “rich”, so who knows what’s going on.

          • MacK

            Every now and then I muse about my youthful experiences of debating dedicated Marxists, IRA supporters (they threatened to kneecap me) and members of the Militant Tendency and note how much the US right and especially libertarians mirror them in their style of argument, catechism-like recitation of pre-canned political argument, imperviousness to facts inconsistent with their positions, paranoid insistence that the other side controls the media (and hence misrepresents the facts so as to make them look wrong), insistence on ideological purity and absolute certainty that their electoral disasters happened not because of their extremism, but because they were not extreme enough. Both also believe in a dialectic theory of history, share a Manichean world-view – and an amazing proportion of former trots, marxists and other lurched straight over to the mid and far right when they stopped reading Das Kapital (actually there is a fair amount of evidence that Hitler was one of the Red Army in the 1919 Munich Soviet Republic (see Hitler’s First War.) Indeed most of the ideological parents of neo-Conservatism were in fact trots.

            The conservatives get so mad when you make this point. I had one recently by the way explain to me that Obama is a socialist, then a marxist – this guy is inter alia an accountant, who I would expect to understand what a socialist and marxist in fact is. I quoted Lloyd Bensen to him:

            “remember when he said to Quayle ‘I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy'”

            and told him –

            “I knew socialists and marxists, I argued with them and you know, Obama is neither. On the other hand, Irving Kristol was….”

            He took it rather badly….

            • Anonymous

              You know Mack, you are a smart guy, but you constantly throw in all of these words: dialectic, Manichean, trot, etc. in an attempt to gain superiority like you are some sort of intellectual. In many respects, you are as guilty as those you impugn in this regard. How about speaking in regular English like those of us in the real world who do not deign to be “intellectuals”.

              • Lee Rudolph

                “Deign” is a tell. Pity there’s no edit button.

              • MacK

                A while ago I wrote a little dictionary to try to explain so many terms like per se and prima facie.

                The problem is that the concept of the dialectic is so utterly nuts that it would take pages to explain, while Manichean again takes a page or two. Now if you want me to explain, I’ll try, but most readers would find it tedious.

                Short form – dialectic is an idea that drives so called scientific marxism (and the right too) which is the idea that history is following an inevitable progression that those who understand the world know and rest of us are in denial about (here is one, it has a religious back version covenanters and the elect, which led to the first huge schism in protestantism.) Manicheanism was a philosophy that divided the world into good and evil, black and white and assumed that everyone was on one side or the other (see gnosticism.) Each is much more complex so that is a simplistic explanation – but hey it still took a lot of space.

              • MacK

                trot = trotskyite. I’ll admit I do not have a fucking clue about what the basic difference beyond an ice-pick in the brain is between trots and regular communists – but they care … call an everyday communist a trot and you might have suggested enthusiastic paedophilia. Instant riot provocation.

                • Manny Kant

                  Back in the day, Trotskyists were the ones who thought Actually Existing Socialism was really state monopoly capitalism. That’s why so many Trotskyists ended up becoming right wing anti-communist loons.

                  I’m not sure what the specific heresy of Trotskyists is to standard issue Communists, besides that they didn’t care for the Soviet Union.

              • Sameo

                No Mac, use your $10 words. Without people like you they will die, like much of the English language already has

                • MacK

                  How about millenarianism – the Christian (and extreme islamic) version of the dialectic. All sorts of non/anti-intellectuals are millenarian, Michelle Bachman regularly makes millenarian pronouncements and she is hardly an intellectual.

              • DrS

                How about you look up words you don’t understand? It’s not like that’s remotely hard and you have access to the entire fucking Internet.

            • Anonymous

              and don’t forget to “muse” about the english language like most of use it.

              • MacK

                Hey we used to use “trot” all the time – for example “X says he’s a trot, but he just wants to get into her pants” or “of fuck, someone just called Tommy a trot” .. “ah whaaa? – oh shite, duck!”

            • Gwen

              I used to hang out with the ISO kids (wasn’t a member, I just said hang around them) in college. They were more interesting than the YD kids (I was a member of the University Democrats, but we could be rather — droll) but otherwise mostly harmless.

          • Mondegreen

            I refuse to believe that is a real quote.

            Does he ever answer the normative question: What should the median lawyer’s income be? And, then, beyond that, why should the median lawyer’s income be that?

            But, now this is making my head hurt– he wants to accomplish this goal by increasing supply, which will not accomplish the goal. But, even if it did work, it would only be because many foolish people took on huge amounts of debt in order to drive down the wages they will make in profession. The profession would (even more so) have to be flooded with irrational actors.

            And who profits from this? Law schools! (And, in 20 years, bankruptcy lawyers, ironically.)

          • BoredJD

            I think he is flame.

          • OhioDocReviewer

            “He doesn’t want declining wages for service providers because the savings will supposedly benefit consumers of those services, but simply because he would prefer fewer people to make a decent income, all other things being equal!”

            ———————————————————————————————————-

            It seems Bruenig is equal parts of The Joker and Bane.

            “Some men just want to watch the world burn. He’ll use the evil rich plutocrat lawyers as tinder.”

          • Sameo

            Is that libertarian?

        • Spent some time in Albania whilst driving through the Balkans last summer – I guess I didn’t see the best parts (which are apparently in the south) as I was driving through the north-east corner between Lake Ohrid and the Montengrin border, but boy was that country messed up. Pretty much everywhere I went there there was the ruins of factories that had been producing useless articles right up until the day Albania’s nonsensical economic system was abandoned. The bunkers (which were often sited in the most ridiculous locations) you often see in pictures from Albania were also ubiquitous. One got the sense of just how much had been stolen from the people there to build things that were totally useless.

          Enver Hoxha and every moron that ever believed in his homicidal ideology can rot in hell as far as I am concerned.

          Kruja was nice though.

          • Gwen

            What’s the going price for a used ca. 1955 bunker? I would imagine those remaining might be highly-collectible.

        • Gwen

          I can see how Hoxha might become a hipster icon these days.

          But Tito may have been the least-crazy Communist Block leader, and perhaps the only one who even conservatives should admit did a great deal of good for his country (fighting off the Nazis, keeping ethnic tensions restrained, building a modern economy, etc.).

          Too bad Titoism didn’t outlive Tito.

  • twbb

    Why did The Week publish it? I mean, it’s not exactly The New York Times (and the New York Times isn’t exactly the New York Times these days), but it’s just a bizarre mishmash of blatantly wrong economic analysis and pompous pseudoliberalism.

  • BigHank53

    There are two questions that every editor asks before they click the button that adds the page to the server. The second question is Will people click on this? and the answer, in this case, seems to be “yes”.

    The first question, of course, is Is she really eighteen and do we have a consent form for this video?

    • BigHank53

      Nesting fail. This was a reply to twbb.

    • Origami Isopod

      Is she really eighteen and do we have a consent form for this video? are two questions.

      • Barry

        Editors can’t count any better than lawyers:)

  • Anon

    Professor Campos — Are you the mysterious dean candidate at Florida Coastal who was asked to leave during lunch?

    • Paul Campos

      Shockingly, I am not s/he.

      I have a piece on for-profit law schools in the works that begins with a description of this incident, however.

      • twbb

        Awesome, I hadn’t heard about this.

      • Unemployed Northeastern

        One dean’s students are another dean’s student loan conduits, apparently.

        • Lee Rudolph

          Obviously the failed candidate didn’t have the requisite coan-do-it attitude.

      • Bored Guy

        Is the prospective dean alright? did they have to avoid acts of physical violence to get off of campus? Is this becoming more and more like an episode of Marvel’s S.H.E.I.D.?

  • JM

    Bruenig has (inadvertently) exposed another problem with the law school scam, which is that even many higher ranking grads don’t actually have the ability to practice law at a high level. And that is part of the reason they are not getting jobs. There might be (at least a few) more jobs available if there were more highly qualified candidates.

    Compare Bruenig to Sean Trende, another law school graduate that writes political theory and election articles for Real Clear Politics. Whether you agree or disagree with his conclusions, Trende blows Bruenig out of the water on basic writing and analytic ability. Trende, by the way, is a Duke law grad.

    Major law firms are looking for people with elite skillsets. Bruenig has shown that he does not possess one, and that is despite the fact that he is still better than 85% of law grads. The fact of the matter is that the underwhelming talent pool in law schools is a CAUSE of unemployment. This is a huge problem for schools that expect reduced enrollment to automatically lead to a commensurate rise in employment numbers.

    • MacK

      Given that Bruenig has a little problem with having received a free ride to BU Law, which makes his whole position embarrassing, plus his failure to check Campos’ credentials before spouting (or at least his failure to realise that his misrepresentation would be spotted immediately), he managed to demonstrate that he lacked a key requirement to be a lawyer, good judgment.

      • JM

        Regardless, he is not in the same intellectual league as Campos. That is why many commenters have inquired as to why Campos is even engaging in this debate.

        This is a major problem that is (mostly) particular to law school. An apprentice plumber should grow up to be in the same league (even if not quite as great) as the master. A Phd history student should grow up to be able to teach a college class and write a paper worth real consideration (i.e. be in the same league as the Professor). The fact that a graduate of one of the top 25 law schools in the country can’t even engage a professor in a debate without people cringing at the disparity is a real problem, and is also part of the reason for the employment crisis.

        • Barry

          “The fact that a graduate of one of the top 25 law schools in the country can’t even engage a professor in a debate without people cringing at the disparity is a real problem, and is also part of the reason for the employment crisis.”

          I’ve seen numerous law professors and deans who can’t pass the ‘cringe’ test.

          • Lee Rudolph

            Failure to cringe at almost any dean whatever suggests nothing less than semi-total anaesthesia.

        • Whiskers

          You’re correct about everything except your conclusion. The talent pool is thin, yes, Bruenig and his ilk are morons, and most of the people enrolled at decent law schools are nothing special, but that doesn’t create the employment crisis. There just isn’t demand for legal services. Yes, particularly, there is no demand for services from dimwits, but there is still no demand.

    • sharculese

      Whether you agree or disagree with his conclusions, Trende blows Bruenig out of the water on basic writing and analytic ability.

      Sean ‘numbers prove the Republican Party does not have a race problem’ Trende?

      I’m sure he’s still better than Bruening, but still…

      Trende, by the way, is a Duke law grad.

      You know who else went to Duke law…

      • Manny Kant

        Hitler?

        • sharculese

          I was going with Nixon…

      • Lee Rudolph

        Not, as it happens, Mike Nifong (UNC Law School).

    • Barry

      “Bruenig has (inadvertently) exposed another problem with the law school scam, which is that even many higher ranking grads don’t actually have the ability to practice law at a high level. And that is part of the reason they are not getting jobs. There might be (at least a few) more jobs available if there were more highly qualified candidates.”

      If that was so, then lawyers who have proven that would be in high demand.

      What is the current rate for making partner are most big firms?
      10% or so?

      • JM

        I saw a recent article where a firm spokesperson said they were still competing fiercely for the same small group of candidates. In addition, the employment outcomes for the top 10 schools are nearly flawless across the board. There has also been no downward pressure on the ridiculous $160k starting salary at major law firms.

        I think firms have spoken in saying that candidates like Bruenig are not an adequate substitute for a their preferred hire. Reading Bruenig’s drivel, it is hard to blame them.

      • JM

        Partnership hiring is different, and has little to do with legal ability. Promoting a terrific associate to partner just creates another competitor for the same scarce clients, that is why it almost never happens these days.

    • Barry

      “Major law firms are looking for people with elite skillsets. Bruenig has shown that he does not possess one, and that is despite the fact that he is still better than 85% of law grads. The fact of the matter is that the underwhelming talent pool in law schools is a CAUSE of unemployment. This is a huge problem for schools that expect reduced enrollment to automatically lead to a commensurate rise in employment numbers.”

      I wonder. Bruenig has shown a total lack of shame, and a total lack of honesty when making his case. Those are valuable career skill. I wouldn’t bet on him making that case before a judge, but before a jury?

  • MacK

    Did you know that:

    Another person who doesn’t understand that medians aren’t averages. You and Campos should hang out.

    Umm:

    There a several types of average – the best known being the mean (there are arithmetic means, geometric means, and harmonic means), the median and the mode. The mathematically ignorant tend to refer to the mean as the average, thereby sounding well, pompously dim. Crooked politicians and dodgy columnists like to use the word average to obfuscate too.

    • Manny Kant

      Does anyone ever use “average” to refer to the mode? At any rate, the default meaning of “average” is pretty clearly “arithmetic mean.”

      • It’s beside the point, isn’t it? The criticism of Campos fails because the analogy is valid – one misleading number compared to another. The logic is not affected by the fact that Campos said “average” while Bruenig said “median”.

      • MacK

        Depends on context – mean can be deceptive when there are very large outliers – median then is more reliable. Mode in some contexts can tell you a lot (especially a banded mode (i.e., $40-45,000, $45-50,000, etc.) In a binormal distribution (like legal incomes) there are effectively two medians – two peaks in the graph – which confuses the issue.

        • Manny Kant

          I agree that median can be more reliable, but it does seem to me that if you just say “average” without any further context, it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that “arithmetic mean” is what is meant.

          • MacK

            A game that every deceptive person plays – they say average and then – “well I was not lying, it was the ‘average'”

  • Mike in dc

    When Above the Law picks this up, as it inevitably will, the snark will be unending and ruthless.

    • Gwen

      “The horror! The horror!”

      God Bless ATL.

    • Unemployed Northeastern

      This is the one place where I agree with a certain BL: Above the Law is almost certainly at death’s door. No original *reporting* in years, and the commenters are all law students mock-playing as senior partners or BigLaw bros.

      • Fat Guy

        It’s all Joe Pa’s fault. He’s awful.

        • Unemployed Northeastern

          I’d peg it more on the half-dozen or so mega-posters who have driven everyone else away from the site with their insufferable, incessant mix of racism, misogyny, lax bro-isms, and latent insecurity masked in fairytales of “Princeton Law” and transnational transactions and faux-venerated senior partner character-charades. Anyone who even infrequently visits ATL knows who I mean.

          • elizabeth

            Could not agree more. That’s why I quit bothering to go there.

          • Whiskers

            I used to do lots of schtick over there, hated the person I was becoming and quit visiting. When there’s a real big story up their alley I’ll go by to see their take. Last time I did that (and first time in a long time was for that Chemerinsky or whatever his name is ny times op ed piece) I couldn’t believe how few comments there were.

            • Fat Guy

              Quality of the comments has definitely gone down as has the quality of their information. Lat had an interesting response to that a year ago.

              Also, Disquss sucks so people comment less.

              • Unemployed Northeastern

                Ah, Disqus is OK, sometimes.

                – Person who uses Disqus way too much.

            • Unemployed Northeastern

              I only go there to waste five minutes of my empty day. If I slow down, I might just die of boredom. Unemployment has essentially given me the cardiovascular system of a shark.

      • BoredJD

        That might just be the relative lack of interesting bonus/layoff/firm closing rumors. Their reporting on Dewey was great, but you only get one of those every 6 months or so.

  • OhioDocReviewer

    Essentially, Bruenig’s cunning plan to humble wealthy attorneys is to ruin the financial lives of as many poor and middle class attorneys as possible.

    I guess he took the saying “You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.” really to heart.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Only there’s no omelet.

      • Barry

        For some people, the ‘omelet’ that they’re trying to make is really just a bunch of broken eggs. They can’t admit it.

  • Reformed Panty Sniffer

    Jaysus, He looks like a dudebro (without the goatee). See bruenig_pbfellowship.

    Bruenig is a “passionate workers’ rights advocate”? From looks of him, I think I see the phrase “you want fries with that?” on his forehead.

  • MacK

    Hey Matt (intellectually honest) Bruenig has blocked me from further posting on his blog. I bet he takes the entire thread posts down soon………

    Tee-hee.

    Who else has he blocked – everyone critical?

    • MacK

      Better still, he is systematically deleting my comments – but the best bit is he is keeping his replies – actually he is systematically editing all the criticism of his position. Now that is intellectual courage.

      • Manny Kant

        I imagine he doesn’t like it that you keep on asking him to explain his free ride to law school. You were, perhaps, a bit trollish about it, so I can’t say I’m super surprised. Still, not very impressive.

        • MacK

          Yes, what I did was suggest that every post on social justice ask him the following question or a variation in it:

          Matt, you talk a lot about social justice. But for the last 3 years (maybe more) you had a public interest fellowship at BU Law that was financed by your less fortunate classmates, many of whom are graduating $150,000 or more in debt, so that you could have your tuition, your housing? and your beer money? paid for. Care to explain the social [in]justice there? Are you proud to have been a parasite. Are you proud that your fellowship was mostly paid for by your poorer classmates, the ones with the worst career options? Will you give us all the details?

          Now I know he is sensitive on this issue, I mean he refuses to say, although it is hugely relevant given his line in the thread about:

          We might have to sacrifice some of those sweet rents Campso lives off of, but it’s worth it.

          But it would be nice for Bruenig to disclose the rents he was receiving and apparently will receive this summer. But hey, it is embarrassing, it makes him look like a hypocrite, a buffoon, a tosser. Must hurt his inflated self image as a guy who complains about the mathematical illiteracy of posters in such a way as to reveal his own…

          Feel free to ask him that question at suitable moments.

          • Manny Kant

            Yup, he’s obviously pretty thin-skinned about that.

            His whole attitude is just utterly beyond me. There are people in American society who are making too much money, but the idea that an attorney making $100K is some kind of outrageous violation of egalitarianism is completely mystifying to me.

          • spoilers here

            I like you throwing around the term ‘tosser’ – it’s a good giveaway where you’re writing from.

        • MacK

          Manny, I’d bet you real money that the entire blog entry disappears in the near future. It is just so embarrassing for Bruenig, so stupid.

          Somehow I suspect you would not take that bet.

          • mike in dc

            Considering that even Brian Leiter jumped in to call his arguments stupid, I’m guessing that he will be deleting the whole thing some time down the line.

            • I read the comments, where is Leiter in there?

            • cpinva

              thanks to the internet, it is already cached somewhere, and will never die.

      • Yeah, I saw that he’d deleted all your comments. A real “Worker’s rights advocate” “sticking it to the man” he is.

        Far-left-wing followers nowadays resemble nothing more than Cosplayers and World of Warcraft devotees, except that rather than being “Blood Elves” or “Lolitas”, they are “Hoxaists” and “Chavaists”. The ideologies they claim to follow no more effect their actions in the real world than the clan-membership of a MMORG player, instead they just help to salve their egos and justify their hatred of whoever their target du jour is.

        • OhioDocReviewer

          Instead of playing Dungeons & Dragons, they’re playing Gosplans & Gulags.

  • Bored Guy

    Given how the comment was written, I doubt it actually was Leiter.

  • Guest

    In New York City, where a cop with 5 years of experience makes $110,000 with overtime and gets very substantial benefits, including pension and paid health insurance, that take the cost of benefits to an amount equal to salary, a lawyer getting $113,000, mostly without pension benefits absolutely breaks the bank. It is outrageous that the top quarter paid licensed lawyers in the United States make a few thousand dollars more than a New York City cop. And the cop gets pension, so those top paid lawyers need to make much less that the cop for equity’s sake. The fact that of the 360,000 jobs that are above the median for lawyers, about a third of those are in big law, only lasting for a few years. You probably have a little over a quarter million real legal jobs which pay that median and are not subject to strict up or out for 1.25 million licensed lawyers.

    An absolute giveaway – that the top 20% of lawyers in the United States are so highly paid and that another small percentage gets those huge big law salaries for a few years before being fired by their law firms.

    • Barry

      “In New York City, where a cop with 5 years of experience makes $110,000 with overtime and gets very substantial benefits, including pension and paid health insurance, that take the cost of benefits to an amount equal to salary…”

      Note – I don’t know what it takes to become a NYCPD officer, but I imagine that the equivalent connections in a higher social class would put the average JD grad right into a sweeet, highly paid job.

  • Guest

    Pharmacists average about the same compensation as lawyers. However, getting a job is not nearly as hard as getting a law job.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2013/10/27/Pharmacy-schools-turning-out-too-many-grads/stories/201310270094

    The undergrads from Harvard, Yale and Princeton and other elite schools have not flocked to pharmacy as a profession the way they flocked to law.

    The reliance by law schools on up or out jobs with temporary high salaries masks the real oversupply of lawyers and the mediocre earnings of lawyers on average. Up or out just increases the oversupply that exists at the law school level. So the trajectory of Harvard Law with honors, a federal clerkship, a decade in big law, a follow up job in a smaller firm or in house, and then temp work with long periods of unemployment by the time that person is 45 to 55 years old. 15 or 20 good years and the rest is at the average salary of lawyers in the U.S. even for those working in high costs cities because the high paying law firms will not hire and will not retain 45-55 year olds who graduated from law school in their 20s as associates.

  • jon

    Amazing. I just wasted entirely too much of my time reading through the comments at his website. To sum up Matt’s position (so others don’t have to waste their time):

    The ONLY thing he cares about is lowering lawyer incomes. He specifically disavowed any interest in whether this lowering of wages would actually have any effect on the cost (or quality) of legal services, whether it would increase access by the poor to legal services, or whether his proposed method of lowering wages (further flooding an oversaturated market with unemployable debt slaves) may cause more harm than his undeniable “social good” of lowering lawyer incomes.

    • Good summary, but you missed out the fact that his proposed “solutions” won’t even have the result that he’s seeking.

    • Barry

      Which leads me to wonder just WTF is his weird condition?

      If you haven’t heard, that KKK guy who killed some people in Missouri a few weeks ago had a prior arrest for being found in the back seat of a car with a transvestite black male prostitute.

      Bruenig is not quite that far strange, but he’s certainly on strange kick.

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