Why Young People Are Rejecting Law School

A sluggish job market is just one of the reasons for the decrease in the number of applicants.

, The National Law Journal


A sluggish job market is just one of the reasons for the decrease in the number of applicants.

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What's being said

  • retired attorney

    Each side thinks it is fighting the good fight, that is what lawyers do. So enough talk about how maligned we are in the media. That is not driving young people away from law school in droves.

    It is simple. For students is all about jobs. People know that there are too many lawyers already. The word is out. This is a shrinking market. Minting more lawyers won't bring back the market. Remember supply and demand ?

    Seriously, when will academic America wake up and make some fiscal cuts instead of pointing fingers? The market is speaking, we need fewer law students. That also means we need fewer law professors and perhaps fewer law deans.

  • Mr. Shankly

    This article is a pretty good example of what is wrong with legal education--get over yourselves, folks. We're a service, we're too expensive, and there are no jobs. Law school's job should be to produce competent service professionals as cheaply as possible. That's it and that's all. If we rely on law school to produce "creative" thinkers...we are screwed. Seriously, think about that.

  • not available

    "Moreover, the best recent study conducted by Seton Hall University School of Law professor Michael Simkovic and Rutgers University economist Frank McIntyre demonstrates substantial financial return for those earning a law degree."

    Please. Simkovic's silly study has been ripped apart on The Atlantic, Inside Higher Ed, The Law School Tuition Bubble, Brian Tamanaha, Deborah Merrit Jones, Steven Harper, and other authorities. No data from the class of 2008 onwards, improperly measures law school outcomes vs. college outcomes (i.e. the 25th percentile of college grads are not getting into law school, much less becoming that group's 25th percentile), no measurements to other graduate degrees of similar cost and length (MBA, etc), no real inclusion of student loan debt into the premiums calculations, and a completely superficial and hollow evasion of the permanent, structural changes in the legal profession that EVERY OTHER COMMENTATOR, including law school cheerleaders like the ABA, NALP, and US News, says are occurring. No, let's believe the guy who practiced for an entire year at Davis Polk; clearly, he has more wisdom and foresight than everyone else in the profession. The life of the law is experience? I guess not, judging on the academy's desperate clinging to this one leaky life-raft of an analysis. That his non-tenured law prof job at Seton Hall Law School was under imminent threat of the budget axe when his paper was released had nothing to do with it, I'm sure.

    But I suppose such reliance on duplicitous numerical pettifoggery is to be expected in such an editorial. After all, Northeastern Law School claimed, for many years, that 40% of its graduates found legal jobs with a co-op employer. It used to say "nearly 40%," after the bubble burst, it said "on average, 40%." No corroboration or evidence was ever given that I have come across, just a blanket assurance that these were numbers to be taken at face value. This 40% co-op malarkey disappeared when the new ABA employment disclosure regime began, and it was revealed that, in fact, barely 40% of Northeastern Law graduates were finding legal jobs at all. According to The Faculty Lounge, another cheerleader for law school, Northeastern ranked 160th out of 197 law schools for employment outcomes. It is perhaps the biggest outlier in the country for US News rank vs. employment outcomes. Smashing job.

    And this is before we get to the brutal truth that Northeastern is a "public interest-oriented" law school that stickers around $250,000, including accumulating interest on non-subsidized federal student loans, in a state where nearly 4 people pass the bar for every legal job. What was Northeastern's median starting salary last year, I wonder? And its modal salary? I think only about 8 out 200 grads found BigLaw jobs, which themselves can barely justify $250,000 in student loans.

    "As long as law deans accept the conventional wisdom that our struggles are solely about money, legal education will never recover the national standing it deserves."

    OK, then why don't you cut the price of tuition by 66% so you can legitimately claim to be a public interest law school? Northeastern University is about to embark on a master plan that will cost fully three times its entire endowment; clearly it has no trouble borrowing money, so why not have it borrow some more money to underwrite your law school? Barring that, why don't you guarantee your students' loans? If everyone has such an amazing return on investment, it won't cost the school anything, and would be a great marketing tool.

    Sincerely, one of your hundreds of deeply indebted graduates who cannot find a job in the legal profession

  • zircon

    real simple guys - no jobs.

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