Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Muller: Legal Education: The Worst Is Yet to Come

Excess of Democracy:  For Legal Education, the Worst May be Yet to Come, by Derek Muller (Pepperdine):


Schools had a fairly consistent number of enrolled students from Fall 2004 through Fall 2008, around 48,000 to 49,000. The peak was in the Fall 2010, with 52,500 enrolled JD students. That declined to 48,700 in Fall 2011, and 44,500 in Fall 2012. I project about 40,200 enrolled in Fall 2013, and about 37,800 enrolled in Fall 2014.

Note another striking figure: there are probably about 52,500 applicants in the Fall 2014 cycle; there were about 52,500 enrolled first-year JD students in Fall 2010.

Legal Education | Permalink


"This is just like any other industry, where a phase of consolidation reduces participants, but not revenue, making all the revenue flow upwards."

Maybe, but do you have any actual, you know, *data*?

Who do you think you are to simply assert facts without data?

A law school administrator?

Posted by: cas127 | Nov 5, 2013 8:23:02 PM

The number of law grads is shrinking, but the aggregate revenue earned by all lawyers, is not.

The topmost sharks and rainmakers are merely taking the fees that subpar lawyers used to be making, forcing the latter to cease practicing law.

The biggest rainmakers are making more than ever. This is just like any other industry, where a phase of consolidation reduces participants, but not revenue, making all the revenue flow upwards.

Posted by: TTT | Nov 5, 2013 1:58:26 PM

We still graduate far more lawyers than the country needs. We could probably reduce the number of law schools to the top 20 private university law schools and the top 15 public law schools, plus one 'flagship' public law school in each state that doesn't have one or more of the top 15 public law schools (e.g., Virginia and California).

I've been telling prospective law students for 20 years and more that it makes no sense to go (or at least to go into debt to go) to law school if you can't get into one of the top10-15 law schools. Harsh, but real.

Posted by: CatoRenasci | Nov 5, 2013 11:59:33 AM

If you want "practical skills" try going to Florida Coastal, Charlotte, or almost any unranked school and see how that works out for you. Their professors also generally have many years of practice and many still practice. That version of law school, however, has not seemed to work out that well.

Posted by: JP | Nov 5, 2013 9:13:07 AM

This is unquestionably good news. Law faculty, there is a reason that you have drawn the ire of law students, former law students, and the bar. You are too far removed from practice, and you are willfully blind to the carnage that your system is imposing on young graduates, the practicing bar, taxpayers, and clients. Please do some introspection and start turning on the large diploma mills who threaten your comfortable existence and the legitimacy of this profession.

Recall that law remains a profession. That means it is a disciplined that is practiced for a living by the big boys and girls in the real world. You know, those sorry SOBs that you saddled with six figure debt, impractical theory, and deficient skills to survive in the wilderness.

Posted by: Bobby Dobb | Nov 5, 2013 7:53:29 AM

For the unemployed or underemployed recent law school graduate, this may be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Posted by: HTA | Nov 5, 2013 7:38:26 AM

I can understand that the legal professoriate and bottom tier law schools find these trends disturbing and threatening. For law students, prospective law students, and practicing lawyers, not so bad, maybe even good. And if we believe the conventional wisdom that there are too many lawyers in the U.S., then why is this not a positive good thing?

Posted by: Publius Novus | Nov 5, 2013 7:02:17 AM