July 30, 2012

Because "law-school applications have fallen... prospective students have gained leverage" negotiating for more scholarship money.

The Wall Street Journal reports:
Robert Rasmussen, dean of the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, said students have become increasingly "price sensitive," and are pushing back on tuition figures and scholarship offers. "Students are much more willing to raise this issue than they ever have been in the past."

Enterprising or cash-strapped students have long negotiated with schools over the price of admission. But more than ever, schools are listening. For instance, the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law earlier this year sent letters to admitted students encouraging them to bargain. "We very much hope you find this offer competitive with others you have received," read one letter, dated March 2012 and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. "Please let us know."
It's a buyer's market: Don't behave as if you don't know it. Meanwhile, the sellers, the law schools, fret about the flow of information via U.S. News & World Report, which has the audacity to rank the law schools, partly based on GPA and LSAT, creating great power in the buyers of law school education who bring good statistics.

Applicants with high GPAs and LSATs are like the beautiful women who are served free drinks in bars, helping the bars draw more paying customers. So if you are one of the beautiful women, better get your drinks free. And if you're getting your drinks free and you're not that beautiful, maybe you wonder why you're patronizing that bar.

But there's no U.S. News & World Report ranking the bars according to beautiful people, not with specifically knowable statistics. If there were, and if everyone started marketing their beauty value to the best-ranked bar that would give them free drinks, there'd be a bar bubble, and it would have to pop. 

Of course, there is a law school bubble. It looks like this:

Law School Bubble
From: The Best Colleges

At least that's how it looked a year ago, when the champagne was much more bubbly.


Joe said...

Lawmakers need to get to work, making government bureaucracy more inscrutable in order to employ these poor, unfortunate souls.

FleetUSA said...

I love the graphics.

As a law school graduate (when dinosaurs roamed the earth), I always tell potential applicants that you can't control the type of job you will get with a law degree. Think: power law firms, small law firms, ambulance chasers, corporations, government, social work, tiny government offices, etc etc. In other words your dream job may not work because of grades, school, etc.

David said...

The tenured professors, on the other hand . . . .

Nothing personal. Really. But I am interested in how the great mass of law professors is reacting to this. Do they care? If they care, do they have any ideas? Do the ideas make any sense?

The glut has been eased for quite a while by lawyers creatively (and often parasitically) finding new ways to get paid. That too is coming to a halt, as the society is starting to resist the burden.

David said...

Here's an optimistic view:

When we redeployed women from housework to the paid workplace, there was a influx of productive people who (I believe) had a significant effect on stimulating the economy. Redeployment of the talent that has been going into law could have a similar effect (on a lesser scale of course.)

David said...

Lawyers are not like factory workers. Not many people outside of the law business are very concerned for the fate of lawyers.

ushutup said...

So, I'm a bit confused by the math (is math not a requirement for a JD?). A mid grade degree lands you in $100k of debt (is this all inclusive?) and you land - what is implied to be - a typical/poor grade job at, say $55k.

While the debt to income ratio seems bad, is it really? Someone who is reasonably smart - rather, has their head screwed on straight - will pay that off.

But then, we live in a debt riddled age - the very same person with a $55k job will saddle themselves with a $30k automobile and a $200k house, along with all the other credit-card goodies, but complain about their student debt.

I think it has more to do with expectation, rather than reality. While the cost of a law degree is high, it makes it all the more important to establish the net gain prior to laying down and spending someone elses money.

Joe said...

Yes, ushutup, but if they are paying off debt, how can they buy a Rolex, Mercedes and house in the Hamptons?