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More Christmas Cheer

[ 51 ] December 22, 2011 |

How much debt will people now applying to law school incur from attending the schools they’re considering? Law school debt is a function of the relationship between, on the one hand, tuition and cost of living, and on the other, socioeconomic status, grants and scholarships, and money earned over the course of the student’s legal credentialing.

Let’s start with a simple rule of thumb: the average debt incurred by graduates who incur law school debt — currently about 90% of all graduates nationally — is about three times the tuition the schools they attended nominally charged when those graduates were 1Ls (This ratio will naturally be somewhat higher at the rapidly shrinking cohort of state law schools that charge residents significantly less than private law school tuition). For example, Cornell 2010 grads with law school debt averaged $126K in such debt, while their 1L tuition times three was $131K. Texas grads had $78K in debt while their 1L tuition times three was $75K (this latter figure adjusts for the one third of UT law students who pay out of state tuition). Boston University grads had $103K in debt while their 1L tuition times three was $110K. The comparable figures for USC were $118K and $128K. And so forth. (This ratio gets worse at private third and fourth tier schools. For instance at Thomas Jefferson students have $137K in debt while their 1L tuition times three was $95K).

But this rule of thumb needs to be subject to several caveats. First, keep in mind that law schools have in recent years started offering bigger and bigger discounts to many students in regard to their advertised tuition figures. The actual tuition paid by students at these schools is probably no more than 80% of the list price tuition. In other words, the debt figures above represent the average debt incurred by people who are paying, on average, significantly less than MSRP. If you’re offered little or nothing in the way of a grant off list price (or if you’re offered a scholarship that could easily disappear after your first year — this is especially a problem at lower-ranked schools), you should expect to incur quite a bit more debt than the figure you will obtain by multiplying your prospective 1L tuition by three.

Second, at elite schools, the SES of the student body ensures that many students are coming from rich families who are helping the students pay for law school. This can be seen by the fact that 19% of Stanford graduates, 23% of Columbia grads, and 27% of Yale grads have no law school debt whatsoever. This in turn means that another portion of the class will have relatively modest debt, because while their families aren’t paying for the entire cost of law school, they are “helping out” in ways that, if you don’t come from a rich family, aren’t relevant to your situation. Now it’s true some portion of this effect is due to need-based scholarships, which, unlike almost anywhere else in the law school world, actually do exist at the most elite schools, but if you don’t have such a scholarship and come from a middle class family — note that at an Ivy League school “middle class” means a family with an annual income in the low six figures — expect to owe a lot more than your 1L tuition times three.

Third, before you do anything rash, do yourself a favor and calculate how quickly a debt load featuring 7% to 8% interest accumulates when you’re not making payments on it. Here’s an actual example from the Class of 2011. “Richard Roe” graduated in May from a law school in the 92nd percentile of the rankings. He received a discount of more than one third off the list price of his school’s tuition in all three years of his attendance. He finished in about the 65th percentile of the class in terms of grades, served on a journal, did a bunch of other extra-curricular stuff, “networked” left and right (he is as personable as he is energetic) and basically, as the phrase has it, did everything right. He incurred $145K in loans over the course of law school, which, because the interest on the loans accumulates, has grown to a principal balance of $165K seven months after his graduation from this excellent school. He currently has no employment of any kind other than a school-funded “fellowship” that pays him $15 an hour to do 30 hours of work a week for a non-profit.

There is, it should be unnecessary to add (but it very much remains necessary), nothing at all unusual about either his background story or his current situation.

Fourth, keep in mind that law school debt figures are only for law school debt. Average undergraduate debt at graduation in the United States is currently around $25K, and climbing quickly. The current class of 1Ls who have just finished their first year exams will probably graduate with, on average, around $150K of total educational debt. This debt is non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, which means you can’t get rid of it, short of moving to parts of the world you really don’t want to live in. So, as they say in first year Contracts, caveat emptor.


People without salaries are reluctant to report their salaries

[ 13 ] December 19, 2011 |

While going over the new employment and salary figures posted by Chicago and Ohio State I had one of those insights about something which seems incredibly obvious once one has noticed it, which makes it all the more vexing that I hadn’t noticed it previously.

It’s this: a huge percentage of recent law graduates who are being surveyed regarding their salaries don’t actually have salaries. Read more…

NFL lock of the week from Smooth Jimmy Apollo

[ 121 ] December 18, 2011 |

I was all set to write a post about how you should invest your retirement fund on New England to cover against Denver today, given that

(a) Denver has won six in a row as a consequence of playing a bunch of bad teams, badly injured teams, and bad badly injured teams.

(b) The Broncos have had freakishly good luck in those games (Or alternatively they may have benefited from divine intervention/Tim Tebow’s unprecedented clutchitude, in which case ignore this post).

(c) New England is a real bad matchup for Denver, given that NE’s big weakness (pass defense) isn’t something Denver is likely to be able to exploit nearly as much as your typical 8-5 NFL team.

(d) Tom Brady is probably sick of ESPN asking poll questions about whether fans would rather have him or Tebow as their team’s QB.

However this was based on assuming that the line for today’s game would be close to pick’em, what with all the overwhelming Tebow hype and Denver having home field.

I’m usually very good at being able to predict football lines, and was very surprised to see, when I just looked it up, that the Pats are actually favored by seven, which is a tribute to the marked lack of sentimentality among gamblers.

So this has gone from a lock of the year to merely the lock of the week. Don’t put down more than a week’s salary in other words. But I still really like NE to cover.

The Theologians

[ 15 ] December 16, 2011 |

Near the end of his life, Jorge Luis Borges was visited by a then-little known English writer of the Left, who deplored the reactionary politics Borges adopted, or had at least seemed to adopt in his old age (Borges’ attitude toward politics, like his attitude toward the world in general, was sufficiently ironic that his true views on both were always difficult to discern), but who did not let this distressing fact interfere with his appreciation of the man’s immense literary gifts. Here is Christopher Hitchens’ description of the end of their meeting:

The hours I spent in this anachronistic, bibliophile, Anglophile retreat were in surreal contrast to the shrieking horror show that was being enacted in the rest of the city. I never felt this more acutely than when, having maneuvered the old boy down the spiral staircase for a rare out-of-doors lunch the next day—terrified of letting him slip and tumble—I got him back upstairs again. He invited me back for even more readings the following morning but I had to decline. I pleaded truthfully that I was booked on a plane for Chile. ‘I am so sorry,’ said this courteous old genius. ‘But may I then offer you a gift in return for your company?’ I naturally protested with all the energy of an English middle-class upbringing: couldn’t hear of such a thing; pleasure and privilege all mine; no question of accepting any present. He stilled my burblings with an upraised finger. ‘You will remember,’ he said, ‘the lines I will now speak. You will always remember them.’ And he then recited the following:

What man has bent o’er his son’s sleep, to brood
How that face shall watch his when cold it lies?
Or thought, as his own mother kissed his eyes,
Of what her kiss was when his father wooed?

The title (Sonnet XXIX of Dante Gabriel Rossetti)—’Inclusiveness’—may sound a trifle sickly but the enfolded thought recurred to me more than once after I became a father and Borges was quite right: I have never had to remind myself of the words. I was mumbling my thanks when he said, again with utter composure: ‘While you are in Chile do you plan a call on General Pinochet?’ I replied with what I hoped was equivalent aplomb that I had no such intention. ‘A pity,’ came the response. ‘He is a true gentleman. He was recently kind enough to award me a literary prize.’ It wasn’t the ideal note on which to bid Borges farewell, but it was an excellent illustration of something else I was becoming used to noticing—that in contrast or corollary to what Colin MacCabe had said to me in Lisbon, sometimes it was also the right people who took the wrong line.

That Christopher Hitchens died on the very day that marked the official end of the U.S. war in Iraq is the kind of coincidence that would have led the ever-ironical Argentine to remark upon the mysterious ways of the God with whom Hitchens so famously quarreled.

A small bit of perfection

[ 34 ] December 15, 2011 |

The Guardian:

There are plenty of good reasons to hate football. The diving; players snot-rocketing and wiping their noses on their jerseys in front of the camera; the ever-burgeoning breed of hypersensitive fans; Cristiano Ronaldo’s stance before taking a free-kick; the imaginary card waving; the lack of loyalty; the cliché-ridden post-match interview; Alan Shearer; Fifa; Chelsea away jerseys. The list goes on. But then, all of a sudden, a moment of unsullied beauty appears and you are reminded why you loved the game in the first place.

Robin van Persie’s volley against Everton was one such moment. The volley is the sculpted Armani model of the goal world: an item of rare beauty. And he’s done it before too. It makes you forget about all those other goals. The beating of a few players? The backheel? The diving header? Pah! We’ve seen those executed on a Thursday night at Powerleague. Anyone can do those. But the volley? No way. To do it perfectly, as Van Persie did on Saturday, you have to be good – Gabby Hayes good.

Like the creation of a universe, all the elements have to be in the right place at just the right moment. So rare do these elements combine that volleys generally result in the ball skirting off the shin, over the roof of the stand and bouncing down the road, a new toy for an opportunistic passerby. But when they do come off, sit back and enjoy them. They will restore your faith in football and help to ward off those nightmares riddled by luminous jerseys and inflated egos.

If I Were A Rich White Guy

[ 98 ] December 14, 2011 |

If I Were a Rich White Guy


A Poor Black Kid

Gene Marks, business owner and column writer for Forbes and the New York Times, has written an excellent piece about how I can overcome the massive structural economic and cultural barriers that make it extremely probable I’ll continue to live a life of poverty here in the slums of West Philadelphia.

Marks points out that if I happen to be a good deal smarter and much luckier than most of my “cohort,” as they say in the University of Pennsylvania sociology class that I will never attend, all I need to do is work extremely hard in school, get my hands on some computer technology one way or another, use it to somewhat magically acquire the cultural capital regarding the world of education that Marks acknowledges was a birthright for his own children, and then squeeze some scholarships out of the limousine liberals on the boards of Choate or Phillips Exeter. This will allow me to get into college, which as Marks is well aware guarantees Americans today a solidly middle class — as a writer for Forbes he defines this as a household income of $250,000 per year or higher — lifestyle.

This is just a terrific set of unspeakably useful suggestions for someone in my admittedly daunting social situation. Thanks rich middle-aged white guy!

Now let me return the favor.

If I were a rich white guy, I would also have a lot to overcome. For instance, I’d have to fight constantly against the massive structural economic and cultural forces that would be constantly impelling me to act like a clueless jackass. These include a cultural ideology that somehow gets people who are not developmentally disabled to believe the thesis of your essay, which can not unfairly be summarized as: “If it’s not literally impossible for a black child born into the world of our poverty-stricken, strictly segregated inner cities to escape that world, this fact has great significance for public policy, and should be highlighted for the purpose of convincing people that the social problem of race-based poverty in America can be overcome through individual effort.

Yep, if I were a rich white guy I might actually get paid cash money to write op-ed pieces based on that proposition. Think I’m exaggerating? Check it out:

The biggest challenge we face isn’t inequality. It’s ignorance. So many kids from West Philadelphia don’t even know these opportunities exist for them.

All things considered, I have serious doubts regarding the perspicacity of this social analysis. Because after all, Rich White Guy, exactly how many of the kids in my neighborhood are supposed to go to Choate and Princeton, or for that matter Magnet School and Penn State? What about the 99.9% of the kids in my neighborhood for whom your unsolicited self-improvement plan is utterly unrealistic on so many levels that they’re not even worth listing, since they are, if you’re not someone prone to spouting absurd “advice” that could only be a product of a combination of extreme social privilege and money-sheltered ignorance, too obvious to point out?

Here’s your stirring conclusion:

Technology can help these kids. But only if the kids want to be helped. Yes, there is much inequality. But the opportunity is still there in this country for those that are smart enough to go for it.

Maybe the biggest problem we face really is ignorance.

On bullshit and law schools

[ 73 ] December 13, 2011 |

25 years ago a Princeton philosophy professor named Harry Frankfurt published an interesting essay called “On Bullshit.” The essay distinguished between the liar and the bullshitter as follows: The liar believes that A is the case, but he wants to convince you both that Z is the case, and that he believes Z is the case. The bullshitter, by contrast, wants to convince you that Z is the case and that he believes Z is the case, but he is indifferent as to whether Z is the case or not:

The fact about himself that the liar hides is that he is attempting to lead us away from a correct apprehension of reality; we are not to know that he wants us to believe something he supposes to be false. The fact about himself that the bullshitter hides, on the other hand, is that the truth-values of his statements are of no central interest to him; what we are not to understand is that his intention is neither to report the truth nor to conceal it. This does not mean that his speech is anarchically impulsive, but that the motive guiding and controlling it is unconcerned with how the things about which he speaks truly are.

Read more…

An early Christmas present for the prospective law school class of 2015

[ 37 ] December 12, 2011 |

I’ve been looking at some of the discussion threads at, which advertises itself as “created to provide you with the necessary information to successfully navigate you through the law school application process and find the ideal law school, so that your next three years can be as rewarding and enjoyable as possible.” This seems like a useful public service, to which in this season of giving I’d like to add my own contribution. Read more…

“Theft” is such an unpleasant word

[ 27 ] December 9, 2011 |

If I were the dean of a law school that was getting sued for luring students to my school via wildly misleading employment and salary figures, here’s what Item One on my day planner would not be: “Publish op-ed full of wildly misleading employment figures in legal employment magazine.”

But I’m not Nelson Miller, dean of the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law’s Grand Rapids campus. The charitable interpretation of Miller’s defense of legal education as a “value proposition,” as they say in the B-school literature, is that he is a profoundly stupid man who is incapable of understanding even the simplest statistical arguments. The realistic interpretation is that he is a profoundly dishonest man, who is quite capable of making what he fully realizes are utterly misleading arguments, if doing so is necessary, in his calculated view, to preserve his salary.

But again, even leaving the ethics of lying your ass off in public aside, I don’t believe a prudential calculation regarding present circumstances would lead to the conclusion that it’s wise for Cooley administrators, of all people, to publish “arguments” of this sort:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, lawyer unemployment rose from 1.1 percent in 2007 to 1.9 percent in 2008 and 2.3 percent in 2009 but fell to 1.5 percent in 2010. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of unemployed lawyers grew from 9,000 to 16,000, but only from 12,000 to 16,000 between 2007 and 2010 during the depth of the recession. Contrast these small numbers to 1,040,000 employed lawyers and to much greater job losses in other fields. New law jobs arose even in the teeth of recession. From 2000 to 2010, the economy created another 123,000 lawyer jobs while adding only 7,000 unemployed lawyers. Employed lawyers grew by 39,000 from 2007 to 2010 across the recession.

Dean Miller’s argument is that there are more than one million employed lawyers in America, and only 16,000 unemployed attorneys in our fair nation, so going to law school right now, especially a law school like Cooley that prepares its graduates to practice law, is a wise investment. I actually laughed out loud typing that sentence. Seriously, why is this guy wasting his talents as a law school dean when he should be arguing that his client has a constitutional right to pave over Lake Tahoe, or that the victim of this so-called crime stabbed himself in the back repeatedly?

I’m not going to bother pointing out what’s so absurd about this “analysis,” since Matt Leichter has already thoroughly trashed Miller’s preposterous claims (twice!). Instead I’m going to touch briefly on a couple of related issues.

First, what exactly is the ABA accreditation process good for if it lets a place like Cooley rip off nearly 4000 law students per year? Yes, you read that right: Cooley currently has 3,931 J.D. candidates: one out of every 38 law students at an ABA law school currently goes to one of Cooley’s four campuses. Right now it appears the ABA accreditation machine is giving both lawyers and the public the worst of both worlds: the extra costs associated with regulatory barriers to entry, without the benefits — to lawyers obviously — of cartel-level prices, or of higher quality legal services to the public. (In terms of the latter, how much “quality control” is being maintained by a system that allows Cooley to accept 84.4% of its full-time applicants, as it did last year?).

Second, what is the matter with these people? By “these people” I mean legal administrators, not naive young people in a lemming-like race to get ripped off by supposedly respectable authority figures at the top of a supposedly respectable profession. I guess the answer could be as simple as that some people will do anything for money.

The dean of the University of Texas School of Law was forced to step down Thursday amid criticism by some faculty members about his allocation of donated funds to professors.

Larry Sager had planned to conclude his deanship at the end of the 2011-12 academic year. But UT President William Powers Jr., a former law dean who named Sager his successor in 2006, told the American-Statesman that the faculty had become so divided over Sager’s leadership that an immediate change was needed.

Apparently, Sager’s “leadership” included extracting a half million dollar “forgivable loan” for himself from the law school’s private funds (Jurisprudential puzzler for you soon-to-be unemployed UT law students: if you take out a loan that doesn’t have to be repaid, is that really a loan, or more of a gift to yourself?). But Sagar’s generosity didn’t just extend to himself:

UT records obtained by the American-Statesman under the Texas Public Information Act show that a number of law professors received sizable funds from the foundation, in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars. Powers and Sager said those outlays are made on the dean’s recommendation. Jon Newton, president of the foundation, confirmed that.

“Every member of the faculty with a named professorship or chair gets summer support and/or a salary supplement from the foundation,” Powers said. “Sometimes we help people with mortgage loans and things of that sort.”

Hmmmm. Exactly how much “help” do these people need? (According to public records the average salary of UT law professors is north of $200K a year, not including fringe benefits, loans that don’t have to be repaid, and things of that sort. Apparently these “forgivable loans” were retention payments, i.e., the school “loaned” professors money that they wouldn’t have to repay as long as they didn’t leave during the duration of the “loan.” So Sagar essentially paid himself $100,000 per year, on top of his annual $380K salary, not to quit his job.).

The foundation outlays and other compensation information were originally requested by three law professors. One of them, Jack Sampson, said the records speak for themselves.

“This is above my pay grade,” Sampson said. “I don’t need to comment, and I don’t think I should comment.”

The records show that some faculty and staff members at the law school have complained of being underpaid or discriminated against because of their gender, age or ethnicity. In some of those cases, sizable settlements resulted.

Linda Mullenix , a law professor who complained of “pay discrimination,” received a $20,000 raise and a $250,000 forgivable loan. Laura Castro, who had been a spokeswoman for the law school, received $101,292, the honorific title of “visiting scholar” and use of an office for a year.

Maybe Dean Miller should use these inspiring examples for another article how well getting a JD can pay off these days, so to speak.

O tempora! O mores!

What’s the Matter with Kansas?

[ 24 ] December 8, 2011 |

Charlie Weis? Srsly?

To refresh recollections, Weis, who had zero college coaching experience and no head coaching experience of any kind, got hired by Notre Dame on the basis of his ability to put together mediocre NFL offenses while burdened with Tom Brady as his quarterback. At ND he had a couple of good seasons with Ty Willingham’s players then proceeded to do a spectacular face plant on the field over the next three, while off it alienating everyone connected with the program with his tactlessness and arrogance — a combination which inspired ND to spend 2/3rds of the money in the world to get rid of him, after they had imprudently signed him to a ten-year extension seven games into his head coaching career.

After a one-year stint back in the NFL as KC’s offensive coordinator, he took the same position with Florida and proceeded to put together the 102nd best offense in Division I college football (out of 119 teams). This earned him a three million dollar per year contract with the hapless Jayhawks.

In short it would be difficult to come up with a worse hire if you were trying. Of course this is a school that fired a guy one year after he took a perennially hopeless program to the Orange Bowl, then turned around and fired his successor two years later while owing him six million dollars in buyout money.

Best Twitter line so far.

UPDATE [SL]: The analysis of Paul’s fellow UM alum Jon Chait remains definitive. Also, I’m pretty sure the Internet Constitution requires us to post this book cover:

UPDATE 2 [EL]: Bobby Bowden on the hiring of Weis: “You got to be kidding me. He’s going to be the head coach?”

The future of Albert Pujols

[ 51 ] December 8, 2011 |

The Pujols signing is interesting in that it’s taking place in an era in which we have vastly more information about likely long-term player value than we had even a few years ago. There are a couple of complicating factors to analyzing the Angels’ decision. First, it’s unclear that Pujols will actually turn 32 next month. If he’s even a year or two older that changes the calculus significantly. Second, we live in an age of better baseball through chemistry, so older data about player aging patterns may not be completely applicable (this isn’t meant to imply anything about Phat Albert’s training regimen in particular).

Anyway, this kind of decision seems to me to illustrate something Taleb calls “the cemetery problem” in The Black Swan — the natural psychological tendency to pay more attention to more visible than less visible data. The idea is that there are lots of great baseball players who have had great seasons in their mid and even late 30s, so it’s reasonable to expect that the Angels will get six or seven outstanding seasons out of Pujols, and that the last three years or so of his contract (when even the most optimistic predictors will admit it’s unlikely he’ll be better than an average first baseman) can be thought of as a signing bonus the team had to pay in order to get all those future great seasons from him.

It’s true that various baseball superstars have had several great seasons between age 32 and 38. (Leaving aside Barry Bonds for obvious reasons 38 seems to be the outer limit). What’s much less obvious is that there are a far larger number of superstars who have had only one or two — or no — great seasons after age 31. We’re far more likely to pay attention the first group of seasons than the second group, because the second group is essentially a cemetery for the failure of former greatness.

Here’s a list from Win Shares that represents the overall percentage value of the greatest 250 or so players in baseball history by age. The players reach their maximum combined value (100%) at 26, and essentially maintain it through age 31, at which they still have 93% of their highest value. Then this happens:

32: 90%
33: 82%
34: 72%
35: 65%
36: 55%
37: 37%
38: 26%

Now starting at age 36 a significant number of the players in the cohort start falling out of the league altogether, which obviously affects the total percentage value in a strong way, but on the other hand there have been lots of truly great players who were completely finished at age 37, and there’s no guarantee that Pujols won’t be one of them.

I think it’s a terrible contract.

Losing It

[ 17 ] December 7, 2011 |

I’ve just gotten William Ian Miller’s new book, LOSING IT: in which an aging professor LAMENTS his shrinking BRAIN, which he flatters himself formerly did him Noble Service. It is, as anyone who has read Miller’s previous books can anticipate, mordantly hilarious:

Occasionally I flatter myself that I am earning my keep, contributing more than I am consuming. And unlike those football players and boxers who do not know when to quit, professors, like me, cannot be cut. Tenure and age discrimination laws let us keep working, which somehow does not seem the right word. Besides, there are always a couple of lazy colleagues whose real contribution to the enterprise is to make less lazy ones feel like we deliver value for the price. Never mind that my keep would fund four entry-level scholars in history or anthropology who are now unemployed: I still have kids of my own to feed, though I might be feeding them with someone else’s. Self-deception and wishful thinking, looking on the bright side in a self-interested way, keep us conveniently color blind to our real value, seeing black when the ink is red. Or simply not caring if it is red, when we see it.

Miller, who taught me (after a fashion) property law 25 years ago, was born at the beginning of the baby boom, while I was born near the end. I’m old enough now to read this passage with a genuine shudder of no longer abstract recognition, as opposed to laughing at it with the insouciance of a still-young man.

One of the many disadvantages of getting old is that it becomes increasingly difficult to recognize that the world is in fundamental ways no longer the world of your youth — that things have changed in a way to which you cannot relate, or to which you can only partially relate after a massive effort to break through the complacency which age gradually imposes on you like some sort of psychological sediment.

In dealing with my colleagues regarding the current crisis in American legal education, I find it’s remarkably difficult to get them to accept that there aren’t any new legal jobs. This wasn’t the way things were when they were younger, and so it simply can’t be the case. Or rather, they remember economic downturns from 20 or 30 years ago, and the difficulties people — perhaps even they — had getting jobs, and they think, this is like that, and everything turned out fine in the long run.

Both those beliefs are mistaken: everything didn’t turn out fine in the long run — for many years now huge numbers of law graduates haven’t ever really managed to have legal careers — and, more to the present point, this is not like that.

Recently I’ve been emphasizing that, according to long-term projections, American law schools are going to be turning out two graduates for every available legal job. It’s worth noting that the present situation is actually worse than that. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the “legal sector” (this means everybody employed in a legally-related job, not just attorneys, i.e., paralegals, other admin staff, etc.) added 100 jobs in November. That’s in America. 100 jobs. Total.

This, by the way, counts as comparatively good news, since the legal sector is down 3,100 jobs since last November.

Assuming that within that sector lawyers aren’t being hired at a faster rate than other personnel, this means that, over the past year, ABA law schools haven’t cranked out two new lawyers for every available job, but rather that the ratio has been even worse than that.

There are no new jobs. This means that every new lawyer who gets a job is, as a matter of current economic reality, taking a job from a non-new lawyer who had one. (In some cases this will involve retirement, death, or a truly voluntary exit from the profession, but in many cases it won’t). People focus on the entry-level job market for attorneys, and of course that’s crucial, but they tend to forget that the problems of our industry go way beyond the fact that half of our newest crop of graduates aren’t getting real legal jobs of any sort. What about our graduates from two and four and six years ago, a large percentage of whom are losing their jobs, and are currently every bit as legally unemployed as our graduates who never got a legal job in the first place? Do we know what the percentage is for the graduates of our particular law school? We do not, because we have not made the relevant inquiries.

Again, there are no new jobs. On net, this is not hyperbole: it is a simple statistical truth. The “optimistic” take from the BLS is that things will soon get “better,” and we can get back to producing two new attorneys for every new legal job. But right now the American economy is losing legal jobs — and the ratio of new lawyers to available legal positions may well be quite a bit worse than two to one.

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