This analytic research paper seeks to address the issues which have recently plagued failing legal education institutions in the United States. Law schools do not have enough students enrolling to maintain sustainability and newly graduated lawyers are confronting a job legal job market which has hit a 30 year low. Of the many factors that have contributed to the drop off in students as well as employment, unsustainable business models represent the most damming of these factors. Furthermore a great display of greed from the sides of both parties further solidified these models. Other issues such as the fall of big law and the numerous pending lawsuits that have been filed by alumni groups against former institutions are also addressed. Finally a relation is made between the failing legal education system and higher education as a whole.
Friday, December 13, 2013
Bronner, Ethan. "Law Schools’ Applications Fall as Costs Rise and Jobs Are Cut." The New York Times. N.p., 30 Jan. 2013. Web. 22 Oct. 2013.
Campos, Paul1. "The Crisis Of The American Law School." University Of Michigan Journal Of Law Reform 46.1 (2012): 177-223. Index to Legal Periodicals and Books (H.W. Wilson). Web. 28 Oct. 2013.
Eckman, Drew. "Chalk Talks - Rethinking Lawsuits Against Law Schools: Graduates must Overcome Significant Hurdles to Prevail Against Alma Maters." Journal of Law and Education 42.3 (2013): 575-83. ProQuest. Web. 29 Oct. 2013.
Horwitz, Paul. "What Ails The Law Schools?." Michigan Law Review 111.6 (2013): 955-976. Business Source Elite. Web. 7 Dec. 2013.
Mattox, Kari Ann1. "Transparency And Accountability: What If The Federal Gainful Employment-Debt Measures Regulations Applied To Law Schools?." Educational Considerations 40.3 (2013): 26-29. Education Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
McEntee K, Lynch P, Tokaz D. THE CRISIS IN LEGAL EDUCATION: DABBLING IN DISASTER PLANNING. University Of Michigan Journal Of Law Reform [serial on the Internet]. (2012, Fall2012), [cited December 10, 2013]; 46(1): 225-266. Available from: Index to Legal Periodicals and Books (H.W. Wilson).
MURPHY, ANDREW S. 1. "Redeeming a Lost Generation: "the Year of Law School Litigation" and the Future of the Law School Transparency Movement." Indiana Law Journal 88.2 (2013): 773-809. Print.
Reynolds, Glenn H. The Higher Education Bubble. New York: Encounter, 2012. Print.
Scheiber, Noam. "The New Republic." New Republic. N.p., 7 July 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
Stewart, James B. "The Collapse." The New Yorker. N.p., 13 Oct. 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
Weissman, Jordan. "The Atlantic." The Atlantic. N.p., 23 July 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Weissman, Jordan. "The Atlantic." The Atlantic. N.p., 23 July 2013. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.
This article briefly discusses why the fall of many large cooperate law firms are important in understanding what ails the legal education system. Weissman explains that all though the largest 350 firms in the country may have only employed a small percentage of lawyers, they made up a very large portion of the industries job growth. The failure of these firms in 2008 has caused the job growth for lawyers to fall into the negatives.
Jordan Wiessman is an associate editor for The Atlantic. He is a 2008 graduate of North Western University. He has worked for and been published by: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Washington Post and the National Law Journal. While Jordan is a news reporter, he still remains a viable source for information. Most of his opinions and views are supported with numerical data coming from well recognized outlets.
Big Law- Refers to the top 350 law firms in the United States. These firms mainly based out of major cities across the country, account for the majority of legal profits.
Harsh New Economic Order- Refers to the time period between 2008 and the present day in which the legal profession has seen massive cuts in employment. This “new order” is likely to remain for the foreseeable future.
“These are grim days for large corporate law firms, which like everyone else were kneecapped by the recession, but have since emerged into a harsh new economic order where their old business model appears to be collapsing.”
“And when I say many, I mean law schools. Talk to an academic about the changing value of a law degree, and there's a decent chance they'll play down the recent trouble in Big Law”
“Without Big Law's explosive growth, it's impossible to imagine that law schools would have ever expanded or raised tuition the way they did during the good times. With Big Law on the rocks, we can only be thankful that schools themselves are now shrinking.”
This source will provide the basis for an entire argument within my paper. The argument of the failure of big law is one that is sometimes looked over by other sources. By having this argument in my piece I believe I will achieve a more complete and cohesive analysis of the legal education crisis.
When discussing the crisis in legal education, much is agreed on. Throughout all of my research, I have yet to come across a source denying the fact that law schools are in a downward spiral. The simple fact of the matter is numbers do not lie. All across the board, law schools are losing money. Each year more and more students choose to avoid pursuing a legal education in favor of other career opportunities. Yet the students and institutions are not the only ones suffering. Many major legal firms have minimized staff, been subject to massive buy outs and even dissolved completely since the economic downturn of 2009. With seemingly no end in sight, it stands to reason that this crisis is only the beginning of a much larger problem in higher education. Some have even gone so far as to say that law schools are the “bleeding edge” of the higher education bubble. What is most astonishing, is that there is almost a total consensus amongst those in the legal profession that this crisis is very much a real issue. Very few have been bold enough to speak up in disagreement, and those that do, have only done so in brief interviews. That being said, one cannot expect a bunch of lawyers, writing on a very personal subject to agree completely. Arguments arise mainly around the discussion of how this crisis came to rise. Even in this discussion there is much agreement. In my research I have found that each argument presents valid points and I have used almost all of these arguments in my paper. Of these arguments, two can be debated more so than the rest. The idea of greed comes up in almost every piece written on this topic. First many are quick to point out the greed of the institutions. This greed can be observed in the past 30 years of tuition increases that have far outweighed average income growth. Few articles mention another greed that existed over time, the greed of the students. So many students went to law school only to make large amounts of money. Six figure starting salaries were expected by almost all graduates. The argument made against school is naturally a stronger one as it can be backed up by indisputable data. While the argument against student greed is more qualitative. Although it may not be readily defended with specific numbers, there is little doubt in my mind that students own greed did not play a role in the events that have unfolded. Entering a job market with such high expectations certainly damaged the market. This can be observed now in the astonishingly low starting salaries that many new lawyers are obtaining. In my research I found that only about 30 percent of new lawyers are making over 60,000 dollars annually. With a smaller market lawyers are now forced to accept jobs that many of the predecessors would have considered to be below them. Contrasting the greed of students with that of the institutions is one of the few debates in this crisis. However it still stands to be agreeable amongst most. Perhaps this speaks to the severity of the situation.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
The “case” for my research is the analysis of the crisis in legal education, its causes and repercussions for students and intuitions. Of these principle issues, the cause has been the most influential. When an institution as long standing and reputable as legal higher education experiences such an influential crisis, the root of the issue becomes highly debated. Through my research, it seems as though an “unstable model in legal education” has ultimately doomed the law schools. They have high fixed costs, which have been traditionally passed off to the students. This model seemed to place no limit on costs, assuming that a market would always exist for the service provided. However the financial crisis of 2009 and the collapse of numerous major law firms greatly reduced the demand for new lawyers. The institutions, knowing that the market was declining, continued to increase costs and attract new students with promises of six figure salaries upon graduation. Almost instantly students recognized this and drastically reduced the number of applicants and enrolling students. This now spawns the crisis in which new lawyers cannot find jobs and schools cannot fill seats.
This case is supported by mainly every analysis of the root of the legal education crisis. The title “unstable model in legal education” comes from Paul Campos, a professor of law at the University of Colorado. Campos provides a strong argument for the unstable model which provides specific data and examples to solidify all the mentioned claims above.
The most comprehensive and easy to access summary of the crisis in legal education I have found in the New York Times article by Ethan Bronner “Law Schools’ Applications Fall as Costs Rise and Jobs Are Cut.” Bronner gives a very well rounded and well supported report of the current crisis in legal education. The article can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/education/law-schools-applications-fall-as-costs-rise-and-jobs-are-cut.html
This graph demonstrates the principle issues in legal education today. The steep drop in the number of applicants is representative of the struggling job market for new lawyers. The second bar which represents new student enrollment in law schools represents what is ailing the institutions. The drop in enrollment has crushed schools fiscally.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
As this article comes from a well respected newspaper, it is very comprehensive and introduces and briefly discusses the many facets of the law school crisis. It provides quotations from heads of Universities as well as professors from schools all across the country. The article describes the issues plaguing law schools and gives an inside look at how some administrators are dealing with the changes. It also provides facts and information about schools who have already fallen victim to the crisis such as Vermont Law School.
Bronner, Ethan. "Law Schools’ Applications Fall as Costs Rise and Jobs Are Cut." The New York Times. N.p., 30 Jan. 2013. Web. 22 Oct. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/education/law-schools-applications-fall-as-costs-rise-and-jobs-are-cut.html?_r=0>.
Ethan Bronner, deputy national editor, was most recently national legal affairs correspondent for The Times. Before, he was Jerusalem bureau chief, following four years as the newspaper’s deputy foreign editor. Mr. Bronner has also served as assistant editorial page editor of The Times, education editor and national education correspondent. Right after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he worked in the paper’s investigative unit focusing on Al Qaeda. A graduate of the College of Letters at Wesleyan University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. With such credentials, Bronner is clearly a reliable source when discussing this matter.
“A time bomb on our admissions books”- this concept asserts that for many schools that have weathered the storm thus far, there is still a waiting “time bomb.” All though they have made it this far, eventually the declining number of applicants will ultimately doom them.
“new environment”- the idea that law schools must now reinvent themselves and transform the entire process of receiving a legal education.
“Many of the reasons that law jobs are disappearing are similar to those for disruptions in other knowledge-based professions, namely the growth of the Internet. Research is faster and easier, requiring fewer lawyers, and is being outsourced to less expensive locales, including West Virginia and overseas.”
This quote provides several examples of how the job market for lawyers has suffered. I certainly will be able to work these examples into my writing when discussing the sharp decline in the job market for new lawyers.
“Students are doing the math,” said Michelle J. Anderson, dean of the City University of New York School of Law. “Most law schools are too expensive, the debt coming out is too high and the prospect of attaining a six-figure-income job is limited.”
Having a quote such as this from the dean of the City University of New York School of Law will certainly be helpful in my writing. Undoubtedly I will find a place for this in my paper.
“There is also discussion about permitting students to take the bar after only two years rather than three, a decision that would have to be made by the highest officials of a state court system”