March 20, 2012

LSAT test-taking down 16% from last year.

And down 25% in the last 2 years.
The decline reflects a spreading view that the legal market in the United States is in terrible shape and will have a hard time absorbing the roughly 45,000 students who are expected to graduate from law school in each of the next three years. And the problem may be deep and systemic.

Many lawyers and law professors have argued in recent years that the legal market will either stagnate or shrink as technology allows more low-end legal work to be handled overseas, and as corporations demand more cost-efficient fee arrangements from their firms.

That argument, and news that so many new lawyers are struggling with immense debt, is changing the way law school is perceived by undergrads....

27 comments:

Mark O said...

Ann, let me ask you and any other lawyers here this question. Did you go to law school to learn the law because it was your interest, passion, goal? Or did you go to make money?

I think that makes a difference.

chickenlittle said...

LSATiation

Carol said...

If you're not sure you want to be a lawyer, don't even think about the LSAT. Because once the train starts rolling down the track, it's hard to get off. You get the results, you start applying, friends and family get interested and start asking questions. Law school becomes a goal you build everything around. It's a nice structure if you like that, but it goes only one place: lawyering.

At least, that's the way it was for me.

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TCB-n-a-Flash said...

I wonder how many kids get motivated to go to Law school because of watching too many episodes of Law and Order or Ally McBeal? Too many Lawyers. Too many Courtroom shows.

It's like when Bobcat Goldthwait ripped all the people who joined the Navy and Air Force after seeing "Top Gun". Thought they'd be flying jets, and ended up scraping barnacles off the side of a boat.

ricpic said...

It's just one step away from redundant law school graduates to redundant law school professors.

Bob Ellison said...

"legal market". Cuts to the bone there.

~N. said...

So many kids go on to law school because they're not sure what they want to do after college, and like Carol says, once you've begun that investment it's hard to back out.

My father, a lawyer, now a U.S. District judge, always told my brothers and I never to become lawyers. He loves the law, he's a great judge, but he warned us of the indentured servitude that is the life of a first year associate and the kind of slime we'd end up working with, and so forth.

It doesn't sound like much of a life unless you're an academic or a judge, or maybe in one of the big D.C. lobbying firms, or if you're at the opposite end of the spectrum and become a small-town local lawyer where you really know and care about your clients.

My son made noises about law school because he was genuinely at sea career-wise by the time he graduated, but we weren't about to foot the bill for a graduate degree he wasn't certain he wanted, and we talked him out of the student loan route.

Mick said...

Good. Now if we could stop the proliferation of dirtbag lawyers in Congress.

traditionalguy said...

The Obama redistribution of the American economic system is at work like locusts swarms. The Banks are shut effectively down. The value of assets continues to evaporate.

So Lawyers are too expensive for middle class earners to use more than on a rare day when there is extra money at stake and a surplus to pay legal "soft costs." That would be Estate settlement, home purchase/sale, and the Divorce event.

Otherwise attorneys are only needed in the financial transactions of the 1%, and half of that has disappeared as everyone awaits the Depression on the horizon.

But we can fire Obama and crank up the American economy with cheap energy and new industrial plants built to use it. Then implement a 9-9-9 plan or a knock off, and watch the attorney's demand to rebuild America, starting with legal soft costs, skyrocket for a long time.

Rusty said...

I think we're over lawyer-ed as it is.
This an area where less is more.

Joe said...

One reason for lawyers is that abundance of laws which require lawyers. Same with accountants. Simplify the law, reduce the power of government and the need for lawyers declines. (So does the influence of lobbyists and money on elected politicians.)

Oh look, a unicorn.

Tim said...

This is excellent news. Lawyers add friction, leakages and externalities to private transactions; the fewer we have, the smoother the market will function and the better off we'll be.

damikesc said...

The decline reflects a spreading view that the legal market in the United States is in terrible shape and will have a hard time absorbing the roughly 45,000 students who are expected to graduate from law school in each of the next three years. And the problem may be deep and systemic.

At the risk of sounding mean, the big problem is that the legal market doesn't actually produce anything of use.

They use the government to take money from one party to give to another.

They don't manufacture anything. The explosion of "cute" legal thought from the 1960's onwards led to more and more laws that are useful ONLY to lawyers who can make money because virtually nobody can actually abide by the laws.

fleetusa said...

As a lawyer, I say this is good news. Many young people waste their time and money trying to be something which they can only be marginally proficient doing.

Then they are unhappy.

It is called the law of supply and demand too.

Alex said...

Hmmm I see alot of law school graduates flipping burgers in the next 3 years, and that's if they're lucky to out-compete the HS dropouts!

Peter said...

As I noted elsewhere, a 16% drop in people interested in law school is like a 500-pound man who loses ten pounds and goes around bragging about his wonderful diet.

traditionalguy said...

What's up with more of the old pretense that we don't need lawyers anyway.

That is pure Utopian thinking.

The day men begin to admit that they remember accurately what they verbally promised to do and pay and do it on time without being forced into it is the day lawyers cease to be needed.

Until then Utopia ain't here yet. So get a good lawyer's help and draw the documents that protect you from your imaginary "friends" surrounding you.

Practice Tip: Your family members are the last ones you should be trusting with serious money and no legal contracts. They think it is OK to use you.

Tank said...

Mark O said...
Ann, let me ask you and any other lawyers here this question. Did you go to law school to learn the law because it was your interest, passion, goal? Or did you go to make money?


I went because it seemed like a career that could be interesting over a period of years and where I could be my own boss. For almost 30 years that's just how it worked out.

That being said, I wouldn't recommend it for most people. And I think we would all be better off if the "best and brightest" of us did not go to law school or work for wall street, but rather, went into engineering, construction, or business.

Pogo said...

Mommas, don't let yore babies grow up to be lawyers.

Or doctors neither. Seriously; don't even think about it.


What should they do?

Why, line up for summa them Obama bucks, and then get other free shit like cell phones and rent and contraceptive pills.

Obama's the Candyman!

ndspinelli said...

The real dumb new attorneys can handle gay divorces, the emerging market for shysters.

ndspinelli said...

ricpic...quidado!!! There's a lawnboy w/ penis envy lurking.

delete 2 lawnboy.

damikesc said...

What's up with more of the old pretense that we don't need lawyers anyway.

Why argue a straw man?

Some lawyers are needed. The volume that we have? Not remotely close. Too many lawyers, which we've had for decades, has screwed things up here ridiculously.

Only an over-lawyered country would require directions on shampoo bottles.

bagoh20 said...

I've been shopping for lawyers lately. Apparently nobody In L.A. knows there is an oversupply. $300 - $400 is awful expensive to have someone tell you "I don't know the answer to that, but I can find out for you." Lawyers: the most expensive search engine ever devised.

I, for one, welcome the 45,000 new lawyers and their debts entering the market. We need some bloodthirsty competition; we already got the bloodthirsty.

Carol said...

"I wonder how many kids get motivated to go to Law school because of watching too many episodes of Law and Order or Ally McBeal?"

I never watched any law sitcoms. In fact, it cracked me up that other law students would watch LA Law reruns in the student lounge. It didn't seem serious to me at all, though for all I know they did better than I. Me, I liked C-Span, PBS and shit like that.

Larry J said...

There's no rational reason why 1 out of every 300 Americans is a lawyer. It's insane. It's corrupting our society and turning us into a nation of, by and for the lawyers.

They could (and should) close at least half of all the US law schools, raze the buildings and salt the ground to keep anything from ever growing there again.

Bruce Hayden said...

At the risk of sounding mean, the big problem is that the legal market doesn't actually produce anything of use.

They use the government to take money from one party to give to another
.

And, as you note, most lawyers merely redistribute wealth. Which is maybe fine in a boom market, but maybe a bit of a luxury right now.