If you work at a law school, attended one, or currently attend one, please consider signing this letter:
“We, the undersigned, believe it is imperative that all law schools provide prospective law school students with information that will allow them to accurately assess their prospects for finding appropriate employment within the legal profession upon graduation from the schools they are considering attending. We therefore call upon the American Bar Association to require all schools it has accredited to release clear, accurate, and reasonably comprehensive information regarding graduate employment, by for example implementing the proposals outlined in Part III of the Law School Transparency Project’s white paper “A Way Forward: Improving Transparency in Employment Reporting at American Law Schools” ( http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1528862 ), so that prospective students may obtain adequate information regarding their likely future employment prospects.”
Institutional affiliation or employer, if applicable
Law school attended and year of graduation, if applicable
*Institutional and employer affiliations are for identification purposes only
If you would like to sign the letter, send an email to: email@example.com
This letter will not be published, nor will the identities of any signers be disclosed, until at least 100 current law faculty at ABA-accredited schools have signed it. This number represents little more than one percent of the tenured faculty at such schools. I will give occasional updates on how many signatures have been collected from law faculty, employed lawyers, law graduates, and current law students.
I remember the 1987 Great Alaska Shootout well. It featured heralded recruits (and Prop 48 casualties) Terry Mills’ and Rumeal Robinson’s first games as Michigan basketball stars, and we all stayed up to watch the first game, which started at midnight Ann Arbor time.
In the next few months outstanding student educational debt in the US will hit one trillion dollars (it’s already bigger than outstanding credit card debt). Apparently, until the federal government stopped guaranteeing future private educational loans in the summer of 2010 (all federal student loans are now directly from the government, although private banks still collect a fee for servicing them), private federally guaranteed educational loans were being used to securitize various financial instruments structured around the pleasant proposition that private banks could engage in “risk-free” arbitrage by issuing unsecured loans at high interest that were guaranteed against default by the US government.
I found the comments that are being posted in response to the latest analysis of how utterly “misleading” (to put it as nicely as possible) law school employment numbers are to be particularly interesting.
The situation for current American law school graduates is of course merely a reflection of much more widespread trends throughout this country in particular and the world in general. In short, huge numbers of highly educated young people who had to borrow much or all of the money the spent acquiring extremely expensive undergraduate and professional educations can no longer get anything resembling real jobs. For example, if being a lawyer means actually practicing law (as opposed to being a $25 per hour document review monkey in a windowless room in the bowels of some NYC or DC Kafkaesque warehouse for white-collar serfs) then these people are not and will never be real lawyers. And they’ve got $200,000 of non-dischargeable debt in the bargain, which will be paid off eventually by taxpayers. And again the position of recent law grads is merely a reflection of things that are happening all across society, in any number of fields.
This is not, one would think, a socially sustainable situation.
“You don’t take your shoes off anywhere but in the U.S. — not in Israel, in Amsterdam, in London,” said Yossi Sheffi, an Israeli-born expert on risk analysis at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “We all know why we do it here, but this seems to be a make-everybody-feel-good thing rather than a necessity.”
John S. Pistole, the TSA administrator, cites a travel industry survey that found shoe removal was second only to the high price of tickets in passenger complaints. But he is unapologetic about the practice.
“We have had over 5.5 [billion] people travel since Richard Reid and there have been no shoe bombs because we have people take their shoes off,” Pistole said in an interview last month with Business Travel News.
Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a
Lisa: That’s specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, dear.
Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
I think one thing that fuels the current dysfunctions of higher education in this country is the extent to which older people — and especially university administrators and faculty — have lost touch with how basic shifts in the American economy have left young people in a vastly worse position than they themselves were at similar points in their lives.
I graduated from college in 1982, in the middle of what would turn out to be the worst post-WWII recession until the current mess. But I had no debt, because I went to an excellent public university that charged very low tuition. This, I realize in retrospect, made a huge difference in regard to my psychic as well as economic health. A few years later I went to a top state law school for not exactly free, but for a low enough price that I could earn the total cost of tuition from summer jobs. Today if I had done exactly the same thing I would be graduating with easily six figures of non-dischargeable educational debt at 7.5% interest.
All this is just part of a bigger picture involving very fraught questions of generational equity (The basic policy of the federal government for most of the past 30 years has been to pass on the costs of everything to people who weren’t yet old enough to vote. The student loan crisis may be a sign that strategy is running up against some limits).
I’m looking for striking recent examples of upper class whining about how it’s hard out there for people living on not that much more than 200K a year, and who are threatening to go Galt should the fruits of their labors be expropriated at an even higher rate than the current confiscatory tax code allows for. I already have this guy in the queue but would much appreciate whatever help the LGM commissars can give me from what you’ve seen during your travels through what must surely be the target-rich environment of the contemporary blogosphere.
Student loan debt in the US is approaching one trillion dollars (up from$180 billion a decade ago). Most of this debt is government-guaranteed and non-dischargeable — a combination which has very predictable effects for debtors and tax payers (they get shafted), and equally predictable effects for lenders (they get rich at the expense of the people getting shafted).
This post explores the issue in the specific context of legal education, but the problem is endemic to all of higher education in America today.
Most academics at research universities engage in two kinds of teaching: the general edification of undergraduates, and the professional training of graduate students who, in theory at least, are being prepared to replace their professors.
Law school professors aren’t doing either of these things. Instead, they’re preparing (sort of) people to do something they wouldn’t do if you paid them a whole lot more than what they’re getting paid now.
I started a blog a couple of weeks ago regarding the questionable state of contemporary legal education, which I initially authored anonymously, for reasons I explain in a couple of the recent posts. Those interested in the general topic may wish to visit. Those not so interested may still enjoy this Saturday Night Video:
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