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Monday, June 16, 2014

President Obama Tells College Students Not to Go to Law School

The American Interest, Lawyer-in-Chief Warns Against Law School:

Potential lawyers take note: President Obama wants you to reconsider your career choice. We’ve seen lawyers and law professors warn off potential colleagues, and we’ve seen students start to take note of the dismal job market and back away from the profession. But Tuesday may be the biggest blow to the law school bubble we’ve seen yet, as Obama spoke candidly about the field’s prospects in a Tuesday chat with the founder of tumblr. WaPo reports:

"We have enough lawyers, although it’s a fine profession,” he told the crowd. “I can say that because I’m a lawyer."

When the President of the United States is telling 20 somethings not to enter his own profession, you know it’s in for a radical downsizing. Luckily, it seems law schools themselves are adjusting to this new reality. Some are cutting their class sizes, others are exploring reducing or eliminating the third year of law school. But these are only small starts, and only a small number of schools are considering them. Law schools need to do more to get in front of the market collapse and make radical changes before the changes are forced on them in a more painful way. If the President himself coming down against more lawyers doesn’t motivate them, we don’t know what will.

(Hat Tip: Glenn Reynolds.)

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/06/president-obama-1.html

Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

"When will all these cyber-miscreants and scam blog alarmists learn the news -- there's never been a better time to go to law school and obtain such a versatile, intellectually stimulating degree. It's been conclusively proven to be worth at least $1mm in lifetime earnings."

Signed, The Law School Industrial Complex.

Posted by: Jojo | Jun 16, 2014 12:16:20 PM

Perhaps President Obama is foreshadowing that he is planning to repeal or roll back loan forgiveness for law school grads, GradPLUS loans, PAYE, PSLF, or some combination thereof...

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jun 16, 2014 12:48:09 PM

Leave it to the American Interest to twist things and take them out of context.

Obama wasn't warning students against going to law school. He was making a call for more people to study STEM fields in college and not rely on law school to redeem a liberal arts major.

So basically he was arguing against impractical undergraduate degrees, not against law school.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/06/10/six-things-we-learned-about-potus-from-todays-tumblr-chat/

-------------

Relevant quote from the source:

He didn’t cloak the grim realities of student debt in sentiment or idealism. He cautioned students against “following their bliss.”

"We have enough lawyers, although it's a fine profession," he told the crowd. "I can say that because I'm a lawyer."

Instead, he made a strong call for students to study STEM fields -- science, technology, engineering and math -- to more readily get a job after graduation (and begin paying off that debt after graduation).

“I loved math and science until I got into high school, and then … I misspent those years,” he said.

The average Tumblr user is a 20-something English major. So, not necessarily a STEM superstar the likes of which Obama is praising.

“Ultimately, you are going to do best at something you care deeply for,” he said. “But you still have to grind it out. You can get into the mindset where the effort and sweat you put in doesn’t feel like a burden ... Sometimes you are going to have to take a job to pay the bills.”

A bit grim, but we’ll take it.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 16, 2014 1:38:26 PM

If you actually look at the source material, Obama is warning against a liberal arts degree and arguing in favor of STEM degrees.

Ironically, the American Interest is looking to hire a liberal arts major to be Walter Russell Meade's Gofer.

https://undergrad.polisci.wisc.edu/blog/2014/05/19/writerresearcher-position-open-at-the-american-interest/

Posted by: Anon | Jun 16, 2014 2:00:40 PM

@Anon,

Ah the STEM shortage.

"What Scientist Shortage?" in the Columbia Journalism Review, http://www.cjr.org/reports/what_scientist_shortage.php?page=all

"The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage," The Atlantic, March 2014 http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/the-myth-of-the-science-and-engineering-shortage/284359/

[Nearly half of all H1B visas go to 'tech outsourcing companies'], NPR, http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/04/03/176134694/Whos-Hiring-H1-B-Visa-Workers-Its-Not-Who-You-Might-Think

"All the Math Taught At University Can Be Outsourced. Now What?" by Stanford math professor Keith Devlin in the Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-keith-devlin/all-the-math-taught-at-un_b_1371977.html

And so on and so forth. The so-called STEM myth is little more than industry propaganda to keep wages in check and the doors to the H1B program open. We have a shortage of a few types of engineers, and that's about it. Sure, Silicon Valley can't find enough kids from Stanford and Caltech, just like Cravath can't find enough kids from HYSCCN. But that doesn't mean that either field has actual labor shortages. Indeed, the fact that age discrimination can hit STEM folk in their 40's (!) and lock them out of their profession is symptomatic of a huge labor surfeit.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jun 16, 2014 2:19:14 PM

@ Unemployed Northeastern,

There's no option that brings unemployment risk down to zero, but STEM majors are clearly doing better than liberal arts majors in terms of earnings and employment, and both are clearly doing better than those with just a high school diploma.

http://cew.georgetown.edu/whatsitworth

It's very unlikely this is all selection bias.

Yes, lots of STEM majors don't work as engineers or scientists, but that's not the point. The education provides brought based benefits in the labor market, across many different professions.

There's no education option that produces 100 percent employment--although expansionist macroeconomic policies (monetary; fiscal) might help.

But there are options that are much better than the alternatives.

BA dominates high school. Masters dominates BA. PhD or Professional Degree dominates masters.

STEM, Law, Medicine, and Business dominate everything else.

It's the same as the law degree debate all over again.

On some level, the anti-education crowd really just believe that we have too many people, period, regardless of education level. They are really the anti-population growth anti-immigration crowd.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 17, 2014 3:10:09 PM

@ Unemployed Northeastern,

There's no option that brings unemployment risk down to zero, but STEM majors are clearly doing better than liberal arts majors in terms of earnings and employment, and both are clearly doing better than those with just a high school diploma.

http://cew.georgetown.edu/whatsitworth

It's very unlikely this is all selection bias.

Yes, lots of STEM majors don't work as engineers or scientists, but that's not the point. The education provides broad based benefits in the labor market, across many different occupations.

There's no education option that produces 100 percent employment--although expansionist macroeconomic policies (monetary; fiscal) might help.

But there are options that are much better than the alternatives.

Bachelor's degree dominates high school diploma. Masters dominates BA. PhD or Professional Degree dominates Masters.

Medicine, STEM, Law, and Business dominate everything else.

On some level, the anti-education crowd really just believe that we have too many people, period, regardless of education level, since there's no debating that education boosts earnings and likelihood of employment.

They are really the anti-population growth anti-immigration crowd.

If they devoted a fraction of the energy they put into attacking education into pushing for expansionary fiscal policies (the Fed is already doing everything possible on the monetary side) these bloggers might actually accomplish something useful.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 17, 2014 3:14:23 PM