Monday, February 01, 2010

More Fallout From ABA President Carolyn Lamm's Spin Piece

Tom the Temp

[I wrote this as a Letter to the Editor to the Los Angeles Times on Thursday, January 27, 2010. They apparently were not interested in publishing this in their forum.]

I am the author of “Third Tier Reality,” a blog dedicated to informing potential law students of the risks inherent in going to law school. I am writing in this forum to weigh in on Mark Greenbaum’s opinion piece to the Los Angeles Times on January 8, 2010, and the response from the president of the American Bar Association, which was featured on Above the Law.

Carolyn Lamm asks Mr. Greenbaum to look at the number of students, as opposed to the number of law schools. Fine, let’s do that. We will look at the sheer number of U.S. law students enrolled for the 2008-09 academic year:

By the ABA’s own numbers, ABA-approved law schools had a cumulative enrollment of 142,922 students in 2008-09. There simply is nowhere near such a demand for lawyers, to justify such massive enrollment.

Now let’s look at the number of annual law graduates. According to the NALP, ABA-accredited law schools produced 43,587 graduates for the Class of 2008. The ABA reports 43,588 JDs for the same year. (page 2)

The fact remains that American law schools are producing far too many graduates. Simply put, there are nowhere near this many available attorney positions in a given year – even in a good economy.

While we are at this, let’s look at some more numbers. Let’s take a peek at the average amount of student debt for law students.

For the 2007-08 academic year, the average amount borrowed for students attending public law schools was $59,324. For those attending private law schools, this amount was $91,506. For the 2001-02 academic year, these respective figures were $46,499 and $70,147.

Carolyn Lamm is incorrect in alluding to the consent decree between the Department of Justice and the ABA, as a reason why the ABA cannot limit the number of law schools or available seats. The suit originated due to the ABA requiring law schools to pay their professors at a certain level. Furthermore, the consent decree expired – by its own terms – on June 25, 2006. The parties have chosen to abide by this lapsed agreement.

Carolyn, if your organization is so concerned about violating antitrust law, you may want to ask the American Medical Association how it manages to accredit only 131 U.S. medical schools.

Or you may want to confer with your counterparts at the American Dental Association to see how they are able to keep the number of ADA-approved member schools down to 58 – without violating antitrust laws.

Could it be that those professional schools actually care about protecting the significant investment of their practitioners and students? Carolyn, your organization simply needs to own up to the fact that it does not care about current law students or recent law graduates.


"Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education."
Bertrand Russell


Anonymous said...

The ABA can move fast when they want to. Last year when firing and deferring associates wasn't working effectively enough to preserve profits per partner, they sure got on the ball and passed that outsourcing edict.

Anonymous said...

Paul Weiss chairman Brad Karp is heralding his firm’s record partner profits last year--$2.69 million for each equity partner.

Karp tells the American Lawyer that 2009 was “the most profitable year in our firm's history," despite a decline in gross revenue of 3.8 percent. The firm’s fourth quarter was the firm’s busiest ever, he said, thanks in part to the firm’s representation of financial institutions navigating the financial crisis.

Rather than laying off lawyers, the firm increased its headcount slightly, going from 647 lawyers to 653, the story says.

Gross revenue in 2009 was $665.5 million, down from $692 million the year before. Profits per equity partner in 2009 were $2.69 million, up from $2.65 million the year before.

Hughes Hubbard & Reed also had a good year, the American Lawyer reports in a separate story. Its gross revenue of $277 million was 10 percent higher than the year before, and its profits per equity partner of $1.47 million was 9.7 percent higher.

Daniel Weiner, co-chair of Hughes Hubbard's personnel committee, told the American Lawyer: "We had a very strong year--a lot of work on product liability and Lehman matters.”

Anonymous said...

Her job is to maintain an environment for keeping PPP up at the white show law firms. That's all that matters. Now go eat your cake.

Anonymous said...

Interesting assessment of this industry. There is obviously far more demand for medical professionals than for lawyers, yet the ABA still keeps expanding law schools. This serves only to line the pockets of the ABA and well-established law firms looking to maximize profit. Unfortunately I dont believe anything will be done about this unless and until the ones who benefit from it are hurt the most.

I think an "Anti-Law School" campaign is in order to discourage unwitting applicants to from ruining their lives by entering 3rd tier schools.

The immediate effect of that would decrease the supply of lawyers and that overall goal would have to be for third tier law schools to either provide value for their service or shut down.

Braun Gadget said...

It is really that bad. SCREAM**()(_()_(_)(_*(*()*()*(*()*)(*)(*)(*

Anonymous said...

Craigslist is now posting the following warning in their jobs section.

SCAM ALERT - affiliate scammers are posting bogus ads promising (nonexistent!) employment, paid research trials, or other compensation, but then notifying repliers that they'll need to jump through a hoop first

Sounds like Yorkson!

Anonymous said...

only we working class lawyers and victims of the law school scam are going to actually do anything abou this. Start blogs, write letters to the editor of large newspapers and magazines, make youtube videos.

Target individual law schools and attack the veracity of their statistics.

Anonymous said...

Props to Above the Law for getting this out. But I don't think they'd have any material on this subject without your blog.

Anonymous said...

The reason they had to address it was because there was an article in the LA Times. The reason the LA Times addressed it was because of the law scam blogs. Keep writing about the scam, and keep badgering those in the media and the politicans. The truth is slowly getting it out.

Anonymous said...

Who in Congress and the Department of Education is responsible for allowing the ABA and the law school pimps who sit on the ABA accreditation committees to self-regulate themselves? All the unemployed lawyers in NYC and DC should have a March on Congress.

Anonymous said...

Dick Matasar needs a raise. He only earns $430G's a year. Joan Wexler earns $503G's.

Anonymous said...

When rich American doctors can't get their dopey kids into medical school, they send 'em down to Guadalajara, Grenada, St. Lucia, etc. and buy a foreign degree.

When rich American lawyers can't get their dopey kids into law school, they start a new for-profit law school in some abandoned warehouse in a sketchy neighborhood of town, grease the local politicians, apply for ABA accreditation, spread some cash around, buy a few "professors" with degrees from fancy-schmancy schools, and get accredited.

Hey, whatever works!!

Anonymous said...

No offense, and I don't want to be an advocate for the ABA, by this response is just completely retarded. Your response doesn't rebut any of Ms. Lamm's points, and instead gives good evidence of why you are unemployed.

When Ms. Lamm said look at the numbers, she meant look at the CHANGE in numbers from year to year. Her point was that although the number of schools is increasing, the number of students is not. I'll save you the embarrassment of quoting from her article.

I expected your response to show that the number of students has increased, but you didn't. You only pointed out the number of students in 2009, and then you proclaimed that this was too many.

Finally, re: her antitrust argument, you can't rebut that by pointing out how there are fewer medical schools. For example, there may not be as much demand for doctors, or there many not be as many students who want to become doctors.

Bottom line on law schools is this - despite your claims of saturation, even the lowest ranked law schools have turn away 5 students for everyone they accept. As long as there is this much demand for seats, there is absolutely no way in hell that you're going to limit the growth of law schools.

Anonymous said...


Nando said...

“No offense” is empty language, which serves no purpose – other than to come across as respectful and nice. Next time, just get into the meat and potatoes of your argument, guy. Also, I am not unemployed.

Now, if you want to suck up to “Ms. Lamm,” that’s fine. But don’t expect anyone else on this board to share your sensibilities. The ABA is an organization that CLEARLY does not care about protecting its practitioners and students.

The ADA and AMA limit the number of professional schools. (Do you understand that?!) The fact is that the ABA does not have the balls to go to court and make the case that, as a “professional organization,” it has the duty and responsibility to protect the investment of its practitioners and students. Armed with one thousand employees and a huge budget, and this organization is afraid of violating antitrust law. This is truly embarrassing.

Also, where is your evidence that there may not be as many people who want to be doctors? Remember, the order of prestige is as follows: doctor, dentist, and then lawyer. Tons of people want to be doctors, but simply do not have the skills or talent to become one. Many lack the scientific background.

We are trying to educate the general public and prospective law students about the market for lawyers. (Is the ABA paying you to be this dense?) I suppose you are not a fan of the marketplace of ideas. Should pre-law students rely solely on the false and incomplete employment and salary figures put out by the schools?

In sum, Carolyn Lamm’s response was pathetic – she had more than 2 weeks to come up with a reply to Mark Greenbaum’s opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times. And this was apparently the best she could come up with!

The number of law students in ABA-accredited law schools has been too high for decades. The market for lawyers has been saturated for decades. THAT IS A BASIC FACT – NOT AN ASSERTION. Do you understand that? (Or did Carolyn tell you differently?) If this was not the case, explain WHY there are thousands of law graduates each year - who want to be attorneys - who never get a chance to practice law? Hint: IT IS BECAUSE THERE ARE WAY MORE JDs THAN THERE ARE AVAILABLE ATTORNEY (OR LAW-RELATED) POSITIONS.

As to your last point, as long as federally-backed student loans are easy to get, you will see law school tuition continue to skyrocket. The demand is artificially created.

At least my response didn't take 19 days, and it was backed up by the facts - numbers from the ABA and NALP, no less. Now, when you are done kissing Carolyn’s ass, get back to me with the facts. I look forward to it.

Anonymous said...

Give 'em hell, Nando!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU NANDO! Quite frankly the response from "Anonymous 4:41" was so completely inane, I dare say Ms. Lamm wrote it herself. The facts are what they are. NANDO didn't write an "opinion" piece - these are the realities of the legal "profession" today. Wake up sheep!

Liz said...

They wouldn't publish it? Insanity.

This was really good!

how to get rid of acne said...

Documents have been very important to all lawyers. And I bet this were very confidential for them. Because they everything safe and private.

Unknown said...

I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information.

David John said...

If we speak about Law, there is much cases charged in every minute so probably each and every person definitely needs attorneys help to take over the case. Then how come there are too many Law Graduates be without work? Embarrassing.