Friday, February 6, 2015

January 2015

It's the incredible, imploding, aging legal industry.

Not seasonally adjustedJanuary20141,115,500
Seasonally adjustedJanuary20141,122,700
Change from Dec-14 to

Sunday, January 18, 2015

December 2014

Though the economy has recovered — an 11.2% U-6 is relatively good — one industry seems to lag. At this point you would have to be an idiot to go to law school, which is exactly what is happening. As I type this, seven schools have a first-year class with a median LSAT below 145; these stoodints are in the bottom-quartile of test takers. But wait, there's more! The ABA allows schools to waive the LSAT for up to ten percent of their incoming students. You know, the ones who when asked what they got on their SAT reply, "Drool."

If you think law school has a bad outcome now, wait until a legion of idiots starts failing the bar, squalls online, and the media picks it up and runs with it. Basically, the schools plan to pull the entire "profession" down with them and are laying the groundwork in private. Knowing your students will never pass the bar, you either get rid of it with Diploma Privilege or have the examiners weight the results, all in the name of fairness/opportunity/diversity. The alternative is to acknowledge the academy accepts unqualified students and let John Q. Public think graduates of non-elite law schools are dumb as bricks. Pick your poison.

Not seasonally adjustedNovember20131,138,800
Seasonally adjustedNovember20131,135,100
Change from Jan-14 to

Sunday, December 14, 2014

November 2014

Notwithstanding some patently ridiculous articles of late, particularly this, now is as piss poor a time to go to law school as ever. If we stroll back to November 2010, when there were 1,116,100 souls employed in the legal industry, we can see how far we've come: about 18,000 jobs over four years. Of late, things seem to be contracting, with 2,000 jobs shed over the last year.

If your favorite school offers to sell you a turd at one-third off, do everyone — lawyers, taxpayers, and particularly, yourself — a favor and decline.

Not seasonally adjustedNovember20131,137,700
Seasonally adjustedNovember20131,135,600
Change from Oct-14 to

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The lamentation of the associaTTTes

Vault just posited, "Will Law Firms Increase Salaries in 2015?" Quoting heavily from both NALP and Vault's own survey, it describes a dystopia the likes of which even Scott Bullock couldn't fathom.

Briefly, BigLaw starting salaries have not budged in almost a decade and are actually dropping outside large cities.

Tell me the following isn't bleaker than a box of starving kittens in downtown Mogadishu:

"There are no financial incentives to work harder here. Partners make ridiculous profits and associates do not share in any of the bounty."

"Hard to say that I'm being cheated at $300K/year, but no doubt this will be another record-breaking year for the profits per partner, and we haven't seen associate salaries or bonuses increase since 2007."

"Our bonuses are s**t compared to what they were. Our salary is low compared to what it was in 2007. Firms need to update."

"It is time for a raise. Law school tuition has skyrocketed since the move to 160,000 and I'm pushing 300,000K [sic] in debt paying for both undergrad and law school. The days of the big bonuses helping you pay off your student loans are over, and billing over 200 hours per month has me feeling like even the coveted 160k is not commensurate with my work or sufficient to justify the cost of a legal education."

Bah! In my day we went into law strictly for presTTTige. Granted, we were always balls-deep in models & bottles, but there was none of this whining about deserving a bigger piece of the pie. We got what we got, and we liked it.

This complicated chart describes what is happening. You coders in the basement can ignore it; you'll always get at least minimum wage. The rest of you should be happy inflation is low.

"This is an outrage!" you say. Well, pull close, Grasshopper, and I'll explain why firms are cutting real compensation.

Because they can.

Friday, November 7, 2014

OcTTTober 2014

Hey, boys and girls, did you know that if you can fog a mirror then you're a shoo-in at one of many fine insTTTiTTTuTTTions that can get you started in this thriving industry?

Not seasonally adjustedOctober20131,138,000
Seasonally adjustedOctober20131,137,100
Change from Sep-14 to

Friday, October 3, 2014

SepTTTember 2014

The legal industry just had a nasty month and, at best, a flat year (BLS routinely revises its initial figures). My guess is law school faculty and staff layoffs are beginning to reflect in these figures; I encourage castoffs to network.

Not seasonally adjustedSeptember20131,130,300
Seasonally adjustedSeptember20131,136,800
Change from Aug-14 to

Saturday, September 27, 2014

No, wait, they're serious

I've been a member many years. Back in the day they had a couple of lively, if not particularly useful law forums. At this stage in my career I peruse it for entertainment value.

Vault's bloggers and editors produce clickbait seminal works such as A Day in the Life of a Wachtell Partner whose publication is announced via regular e-mails. Statistically, how useful do you think this is to a typical law student?

Anyhow, this week's e-mail featured Can You Do Anything with a Law Degree? DC Lawyers Say Yes.

Idi Amin reacting to

To give credit where it's due, that piece originated from the Washington Post, which vacillates between Watergate break-ins and vapid articles about yuppies. The problem is Vault should know better, though they included a gratuitous disclaimer at the end of the article.

Here's a more fulsome disclaimer:

  • You ain't getting a biglaw job in D.C., probably the most competitive market in the country. If you are then you don't need advice from either Vault or me. The Vault author apparently did obtain one of these jobs and is either oblivious or realizes that writing about shitlaw doesn't pay the bills. Hence, tripe like this
  • There's that J.D. Disadvantage that will haunt you like a ghost. I'm speaking from experience
  • Heartwarming career-change stories are evergreens in NYC and elsewhere. The common theme is you need money (and health insurance) to make money. Don't have enough capital to offset potentially years of negative cash flow? Sucks to be you
  • Legal training may or may not be of any use to you in future endeavors; it's an expensive sunk cost. One woman in the Post article freely admitted she needed a lawyer to negotiate a lease. People who are smart enough to get jobs like that in the first place are smart enough to realize when they're in over their head
  • Bonus tip: I guarantee none of these lawyers-turned-bakers went to cooking school, another huge scam. Avoid