And first they came for the law professors…

by on February 7, 2013 at 9:45 pm in Economics, Education, Law | Permalink

Last week, it was reported that law school applications were on pace to hit a 30-year low, a dramatic turn of events that could leave campuses with about 24 percent fewer students than in 2010. Young adults, it seems, have fully absorbed the wretched state of the legal job market.

The link is here, and there is more from Megan here.

Bill February 7, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Looks like those who considered law school but didnt apply are smarter than prospective graduate school candidates who did apply to an Econ program.

What would graduate school be like if we didn’t have foreigners to keep graduate faculty employed.

And next they came for the Econ profs….

RM February 7, 2013 at 10:40 pm

With the globalization of education, I think we are getting to the point where the distinction between domestic and international students is blurred and in 20 years may no longer matter (except for visa counting purposes).

Bill February 7, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Except for law. You generally don’t see foreign students in law schools, and those you see are foreign lawyers pursuing an advanced law degree which will not allow them to practice but will allow them to teach a subject in their home country.

It’s true that classes are internationalizing, but you also have to acknowledge that if you get an advanced degree here, and immigration laws are changed to open up visas, what you are really doing is handing out a green card with the diploma, Is it internationalizing or is it providing an entry into the US job market?

Guest February 8, 2013 at 12:30 am

There were plenty of foreign students at Michigan when I went there. And not just for the LLM that was the giant cash machine but for the normal JD too. Most of them graduated at the top 1/3rd of the class and now are gainfully employed as tax associates.

Vernunft February 8, 2013 at 4:38 am

Selection bias, hoooooo

prior_approval February 8, 2013 at 5:58 am

GMU ‘imported’ a significant contigent of Malaysian students in the early 90s. Which meant seeing conservatively dressed female Islamic students, particularly on a weekend as they walked from or to Fenwick Library, the dorms, and both Student Unions was just a normal part of the GMU experience. (And considering the cracks between the floors of different stories in both Fenwick and SUBII, that neither has collapsed is a testament to the judgment of professionals compared to those who actually worked in either building decades ago.)

Bill February 8, 2013 at 8:33 am

Guest, Am looking for the statistics on this (and the breakdown between JD and LLM), but you might consider the wisdom of the foreign law school applicants:

“After graduation, you will be eligible to apply through immigration for twelve months of Optional Practical Training (OPT). If authorized for OPT, you will be able to seek employment in a position related to your field of study during the twelve month OPT period. As a law school graduate, your employment must be in an appropriate level position in a law-related field or other position that requires a J.D. You should also be aware that you may face challenges finding an employer who will be willing to hire you for only a one-year period. Once the OPT period ends, you will have a 60 day grace period during which you may remain in the U.S., but are not permitted to work. OPT may not be extended, so you will be required to leave the U.S. once the 60 day grace period ends unless you continue your education in another U.S. degree program or your employer chooses to sponsor you for a work visa such as the H-1B.”

Bill February 8, 2013 at 8:57 am

Guest, I would bet that most of them are foreign trained lawyers taking the one year LLM course, rather than the JD degree.

From an article on foreign lawyers practicing in the US by Carole Silver in the Fordham Law Review:

“In 1999, the most recent year for which numbers are available,
1,616 foreign lawyers graduated from LL.M. programs, earning
fifty-two percent of the total number of LL.M. degrees
awarded that year and constituting 41% of all students enrolled
in post-graduate programs at U.S. law schools.”

“Regardless of the desirability of U.S. law firms by foreign
lawyers, the firms have not reciprocated by openly welcoming
foreign lawyers. Foreign lawyers represent a small fraction of the
lawyers hired by U.S. law firms each year, and they are present in
U.S. offices in very limited numbers.”

Alan Gunn February 8, 2013 at 7:59 am

In some states a foreign lawyer with a US LLM who passes the bar exam can be admitted to the bar.

Bill February 8, 2013 at 9:02 am

Yes, and what in effect happens is that the LLM attorney practices the law of his home jurisdiction in the US under reciprocity given to a foreign lawyer practicing his country’s law in the US.

WG February 8, 2013 at 3:31 am

The “100 reasons NOT to go to grad school” blog comes to mind:

Too many young adults are spending too much money (and too many years) getting credentials of highly questionable value. The problem is definitely not limited to law school.

axa February 8, 2013 at 5:45 pm

poor guy, so worried about other people opinions on grad schoool. with that level of self pity he should write drama and not a blog

Andrew' February 8, 2013 at 6:58 am

“What would graduate school be like if we didn’t have foreigners to keep graduate faculty employed.”

It would be like a public good.

ThomasH February 8, 2013 at 8:04 am

True. That’s why we need to make it easier for foreign stdents to come to the US for study. If we can allow more of them to stay afterward, so much the better.

Andrew' February 8, 2013 at 8:07 am

If by easier you mean to increase the seats so that the Americans who have paid to produce the draw aren’t crowded out then you might be onto something.

RM February 7, 2013 at 11:22 pm

Well … you mentioned economics and graduate school in general.

About international law students, in addition to those you mentioned, there are also a number of migrants to the U.S. who are lawyers and end up practicing here. (Walk through the boroughs of NY and one will see lots of them.) But that is neither here nor there.

Handing out green cards is a subsidiary issue to the internationalization of education. The latter could proceed without any of the former.

Ed February 8, 2013 at 1:13 am

This is good news.

This comment isn’t intended to be anti-lawyer, or anti-education. By nearly all accounts the U.S. system has been cranking out too many lawyers (look at the international cross-metrics), and recently has been cranking out too many lawyers that can be absorbed by the job market. Word is getting out and the problem is being solved from the ground up, by prospective law school students getting clued in (with no help from the legal establishment, the educational establishment, or the media) and finding something else to do with their lives.

Andreas Moser February 8, 2013 at 2:51 am

I studied and subsequently practised law myself. I then had to give it up because I wanted to leave the country that I had studied it in (Germany). It is one of the worst careers if you want to move from one country to the next, in the US even from one state to the other.

Ray Lopez February 8, 2013 at 5:07 am

The trouble with the German bar is that they expect you to be come a specialist in all areas of law. Consequently you are nearly middle aged by the time you graduate. No doubt a medieval “guild” apprenticeship-type requirement to limit the number of lawyers in Germany.

prior_approval February 8, 2013 at 5:39 am

‘No doubt a medieval “guild” apprenticeship-type requirement to limit the number of lawyers in Germany.’

And for an export oriented, high quality manufacturing society, that decision has turned out to be one of the major advantages it enjoys over a formerly formidable competitor.

ad*m February 8, 2013 at 7:46 am

It is at least as difficult to practice medicine trans-atlantically.

otto February 8, 2013 at 5:51 am

Many of these discussions seem to be a bit too much into the schadenfreude re cushily-tenured-becoming-maybe-unemployed. Law is still a road to a fortune in the US, compared to alternatives, and top lawyers will still want to study with published scholars, so the shake out is likely to be rather less dramatic than some think.

Steven February 8, 2013 at 6:20 am

Yes, but top lawyers on a road to riches constitute only a small minority of the number of graduates law schools produce every year. Most graduates don’t do any better in the job market for their law degree and may even do worse. If everybody knew that, I think the shake up could be dramatic. But most people still don’t know that or if they do, they’re too willing to gamble.

Andrew' February 8, 2013 at 7:01 am

Wouldn’t it be great if education was aligned to the majority rather than the superstars?

Ricardo February 8, 2013 at 10:11 am

No… if it were, many superstars would never be discovered.

Ted Craig February 8, 2013 at 7:24 am

Look at the timeframe. Many grads in 2010 were hiding out in grad school, waiting for the employment outlook to improve. It has, so now they can get jobs instead of advanced degrees.

prior_approval February 8, 2013 at 7:54 am

A repost without commentary (we will see how long this lasts) -

So let’s quote the actual text –

‘First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.’

And do note, this is the approved translation of the Martin-Niemöller-Foundation.…

johnhaskell February 8, 2013 at 8:53 am

And yet, since 2000, the ABA, in all of its wisdom, has granted accreditation to 18 new schools, to bring the total number of institutions complicit in the law school scam to 201.

Caroline February 8, 2013 at 10:34 am

It would be very good news if the conclusions drawn from the data were correct, but unfortunately the number of graduating lawyers is constrained by the number of student spots, not the number of applications for those spots. If the schools are now getting 1.25 applicants for each spot instead of 1.5 or 2 applicants per spot, it will still result in 100% of the spots being taken.

johnhaskell February 8, 2013 at 11:47 am

Exactly, which is why the ABA needs to not only halt further diluting the value of the J.D. and further saturating the labor pool, it needs to start yanking accreditation from schools to push the labor supply closer to demand.

whatsthat February 8, 2013 at 11:12 am

The first link does not say lawyers find it hard to get a job: only that private firms are lowering hiring, because of the shutting down of many positions following the 2008 recession.

Most other categories, the # of newly employed lawyers has risen.Of course, some of this may simply be people that would have gone to private firms, now going to the other jobs.

Go Kings, Go! February 8, 2013 at 12:28 pm

It’s temporary. The Congress, with farsighted wisdom the Fed lacks, is goosing nominal legal product back to its trend-line growth by lifting expected NLP through the passage of legislation that compels large,newly formed administrative bodies to deliver unlimited quantities of regulatory and administrative guidance.

Reasons for current decline: (1) We saw an unnatural spike in the 1980s because of all the great legal TV shows (happened to medicine too); (2) legal was a big downstream beneficiary of the financial sector bubble that just popped, as it downsizes 40% so will legal, luxury sports car, tailored suits, inflated sushi, MBA programs and overweening self regard.

Floccina February 8, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Doesn’t that just mean that they will need to accept application that they would not have accepted in the past?

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