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Don't Blame Students for Getting Tricked into Law School

False advertising about job-placement rates may have duped people into taking out massive student loans.


Anyone who still believes that law school is a golden ticket to a high-powered job with a mid-six-figure salary evidently lives in some parallel world with no news coverage. Over the past four years of recession and glacial recovery, dozens of articles have reported on the trend of newly minted lawyers with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and no job prospects. And though media coverage of the problem has felt over-the-top at times—it can be awfully hard to pity people who elected to take out massive loans to go into an overcrowded profession—it seems to be having some effect: applications to law school were down 11.5 percent nationwide this spring.

Declining applications are a frightening trend for law schools that want to continue existing, so it's not surprising that many of them are working feverishly to find ways of distinguishing themselves from competing institutions. And, of course, one key way of doing that is advertising high job-placement rates and starting salaries for new graduates. Every law school in the country has a web page boasting impressive-sounding statistics about alumni employment. The only problem, according to two new law suits? Those numbers are completely fictional.

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Common Law: The Recession Is Forcing Law Schools to Be More Practical

Forget lectures and Socratic-style seminars. Law schools are shifting toward job-friendly skills like project management.



Can making law school more practical help grads facing a tough legal job market? That's the thinking behind recent changes in course offerings and faculty at the nation's law schools. Instead of continuing the tradition of theory-based courses in which students learn how to analyze a case, research the law, and make an argument, schools are shifting to teaching job-friendly skills like networking, managing clients, and how to file a case in court.

According to the Wall Street Journal, this shift is entirely driven by the recession. In 2010, only 25 percent of law school grads were hired by big law firms, down from 33 percent in 2009. Firms don't want to hire new grads because clients are "limiting the number of hours" a firm can charge and making policies "not to pay for first-year associates." That's because law schools traditionally equip students with theoretical knowledge, leaving them to pick up the practical aspects of being a lawyer on the job. However, clients no longer feel they should have to pay while someone gets up to speed, meaning that law firms are pushing back on law schools to send them grads that are ready to hit the ground running.

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Should Michigan Law Students Have to Listen to an Anti-Gay Commencement Speaker?

Senator Rob Portman is set to speak at his old law school. But many current students don't want him there.

Rob Portman is a successful man. Currently the junior senator from Ohio, Portman, a Republican, is also a former U.S. congressman and once served as director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush. In many ways, it makes total sense that the University of Michigan law school asked Portman to speak at this year's graduation, a ceremony he attended as an exiting student in 1984. But then there's his record on gay rights.

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Everyone You Know Is Applying to Grad School

What are we going to get for suffering through this awful recession? More lawyers, apparently. Who are making out like bandits? Educational...

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