In The Lawyer Bubble, Steven J. Harper reveals how a culture of short-term thinking has blinded some of the nation’s finest minds to the long-run implications of their actions. Law school deans have ceded independent judgment to flawed U.S. News & World Report rankings criteria in the quest to maximize immediate results. Senior partners in the nation’s large law firms have focused on current profits to enhance American Lawyer rankings and individual wealth at great cost to their institutions. Yet, wiser decisions—being honest about the legal job market, revisiting the financial incentives currently driving bad behavior, eliminating the billable hour model, and more—can take the profession to a better place.
On the surface, law schools today are thriving. Enrollments are on the rise, and their resources are often the envy of every other university department. Law professors are among the highest paid and play key roles as public intellectuals, advisers, and government officials. Yet behind the flourishing facade, law schools are failing abjectly.
How have some African-American attorneys, recently admitted to the bar, successfully navigated what research suggests is a very precarious pipeline to the legal profession? The response to this question entailed a journey that spanned some three years, over fifty informants, and a dozen or so researchers and scholars who study the intersections of education, race, and efforts to achieve social equity.
Many of our national leaders today emerge from the rarefied air of the nation’s top law schools. The ideas taught there in one generation often wind up shaping national policy in the next. The trouble is, as Walter Olson explains in this book, our elite law schools keep churning out ideas that are catastrophically bad for America.
This collection brings together a distinguished group of researchers to examine the power relations which are played out in university law schools as a result of the different pressures exerted upon them by a range of different 'stakeholders'.
National Association for Law Placement (NALP) Report on Salaries and Employment
This Essay examines some of the hard data available for today’s legal market and develops very basic forecasts and hypotheses about what the future will bring for the U.S. legal profession during the next decades. In conclusion, it projects that recent law school graduates and current and future law students are standing at the threshold of the most robust legal market that ever existed in this country — a legal market which will grow, exist for, and coincide with, their entire professional careers. Using admittedly back-of-the-envelope math based on current trends affecting the legal market (in particular, lawyer retirements, population growth, and additional demand for legal services driven by increased volume and complexity), the Essay estimates over 840,000 new employment opportunities for lawyers between 2010 and 2030 alone.
Legal educators defending the value of legal education like to extoll the non-economic value of a degree. Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Irvine, School of Law, for example, criticized my book, Failing
Law Schools, because it “looks at the value of a law degree in too much of monetary concerns.” The law dean declared, “It’s not just monetary. . . . There are all sorts of exciting things you can do with a law degree.” Paul Berman, the former dean of George Washington University Law School, argued that a cost-benefit analysis is “only a crude measure that ignores the intrinsic value of education in personal, intellectual, spiritual and emotional growth.” ...
Many countries around the world have experienced sharp increases in the number of legal professionals over the last 40 to 50 years. In this paper, I focus on the role of the gatekeepers which in most countries today are the institutions that provide education and training for those hoping to enter the profession.
Law school has long been thought of as an investment in human capital inherently worth consuming. This is a dated view. Today, entering the legal profession through law school requires an increasingly significant financial investment. Yet very little information about the value of a legal education is available for prospective law students. In fact, much of the information tends to mislead rather than inform aspiring lawyers.
This Article surveys the available information with respect to one important segment of the value analysis: post-graduation employment outcomes. It then proposes a new standard for the presentation of post-graduation outcomes, "The LST Proposal." Our hope is that this standard enables prospectives to take a detailed, holistic look at the diverse employment options from different law schools.
There continues to be an active debate on the question of whether or not law school is a good investment. I prefer to think of the question not in terms of “whether,” but in terms of “when.” In this essay, I conduct an analysis for three current undergraduates who are considering attending private law schools. I demonstrate how such individuals should take all known costs and all expected benefits into account in making their “investment” decision. As the calculation necessarily differs dramatically from one potential law student to another, my conclusions are far less important than my methodology.
Based on his belief that law school is no longer affordable for most students, Tamanaha offers several radical proposals, such as amending accreditation standards to permit a two-tier system, in which only a few expensive law schools would continue as research institutions offering three-year degrees, while most would offer law degrees after two years of classroom study and a year of some sort of lightly-supervised apprenticeship. He would also do away with the standard that requires schools to put most faculty members on tenure tracks and to support faculty research. This review essay questions the need for those far-reaching changes in legal education and concludes with the suggestion that Tamanaha focus his considerable critical skills on the problems not of law students, but of lower-income clients who are unable to obtain the legal services that they need.
The economist Herbert Stein once remarked that if something cannot go on forever, it will stop. Over the past four decades, the cost of legal education in America has seemed to belie this aphorism: it has gone up relentlessly. Private law school tuition increased by a factor of four in real, inflation-adjusted terms between 1971 and 2011, while resident tuition at public law schools has nearly quadrupled in real terms over just the past two decades. Meanwhile, for more than thirty years, the
percentage of the American economy devoted to legal services has been shrinking. In 1978 the legal sector accounted for 2.01 percent of the nation’s GDP: by 2009 that figure had shrunk to 1.37 percent—a 32 percent decrease. These two trends are not mutually sustainable. If the cost of becoming a lawyer continues to rise while the economic advantage conferred by a law degree continues to fall, then eventually both the market for new lawyers and for admission to law school will crash...
This Article discusses the financial viability of law schools in the face of massive structural changes now occurring within the legal industry. It then offers a blueprint for change – a realistic way for law schools to retool themselves in an attempt to provide our students with high quality professional employment in a rapidly changing world. Because no institution can instantaneously reinvent itself, a key element of my proposal is the “12% solution.” Approximately 12% of faculty members take the lead on building a competency-based curriculum that is designed to accelerate the development of valuable skills and behaviors prized by both legal and nonlegal employers. For a variety of practical reasons, successful implementation of the blueprint requires law schools to band together in consortia. The goal of these initiatives needs to be the creation and implementation of a world-class professional education...