Anonymous User wrote:I'd agree that the classroom experience at Yale isn't that different from some lower-tier schools. But like I said, employers like that stamp of approval. Firms like knowing the law grad is in some sense better. *Because* the actual classroom education is so similar across schools, quality of education doesn't change much. But different schools have different student bodies, and the top law schools screen students much more rigorously. To attend one of these schools is to have been chosen by them, which is why attending them is valuable.
I think you and I are going to disagree signficantly on how effective this screening process actually is. When Biglaw turnover is 75% after five years, I think there's plenty of evidence that the current system is not working. That's almost unheard of in any other industry except for mall retail or the restaurant industry. While the law firms themselves manage to profit off this system anyway, clients do not. And yes, clients are going to move to firms that are better equipped to meet their needs.
This is the point which you ignored: Not everyone can get into these schools, no matter how able to pay they are. You can't just pay to play at Yale. You have to get in first.
Yes, but nearly everyone gets into a range of schools: usually a better school with no scholarship or a worse school with close to a full ride. A lot of students choose the more expensive school not because they will get a more worthwhile education, but simply because of the pay-to-play placement power. So, instead of going to law school for free, they pay $150K in tuition solely to get placed into a better job.
Adding on to what I just said, what law firms already do is efficient *for them*. They hire law students who were screened on two different levels. First, they're screened by the school which they got into. Second, they're screened by how they did at that school, grades, etc. Then, after those two levels, they bring them in to work for several weeks and evaluate them. All of that together is plenty enough to make a judgment. Most employers do far less than that before hiring someone.
Like I said above, the point isn't that it's not effective for law firms--the point is that clients don't view it as an effective use of their money.
Or are you suggesting that law firms don't hire entry-level attorneys at all?
I think a good idea is to either hire laterals with experience (and yes, there is a substantial amount of people getting the kind of experience outside of Biglaw that would help them be a better Biglaw attorney), or to hire everyone as a staff attorney and pay them less, and make their work product, and not their grades, the grounds for becoming an associate.
This might not, at first glance, seem like an appealing option to a lot of law grads, but in the long term, the consequences of such a practice would have beneficial effects for almost everyone involved in the game.
Is your problem with the hiring process or with high tuition? It sounds like it's the high cost of tuition. It honestly doesn't matter how the top law firms hire attorneys if you think wages are driving tuition up. If the real cause of high tuition is people chasing big-dollar jobs, like you claim, then the only thing you can do is eliminate high-paying jobs for attorneys. Otherwise, no matter how law firms recruit, people will chase those jobs.
The cost of tuition is high because people think (many rightfully so) that a school's name alone is what will get you the job. So yes, Biglaw salaries do alter the calculus of how much prospective students are willing to spend on tuition. I'm not necessarily blaming
this on Biglaw, but I am saying that, because the connection between school name and placement is so direct--instead of there being an intervening variable like demonstrated work product--it makes the "pay-to-play" tuition fiasco all the more prevelant.
People will always be lured into chosing the more expensive school if the expensive school alone is what will place you, and there are few other intervening variables.
None of this goes against what I told you. In fact it reinforces what I told you. If tuition is so out of control that even those who make BigLaw can't afford it, then it can't just be caused by BigLaw salaries. You're actually railing against employers paying attorneys well, when that's not the real problem. The real problem is infinite free student loans that make it easy to gamble no matter what the risks. That's why so many people keep paying such high tuition. People will keep gambling as long as you keep giving them a free line of credit. If you want real reform you should stop crusading against jobs and start lobbying for changes that address your concerns.
There are multiple problems, I agree. And I'm not blaming Biglaw salaries for the crisis. What I am
saying is that if entry-level associate salaries went down to rational levels, tuition would have
to steeply drop at almost every law school, because no one in their right mind would pay $240K just for school name alone. I realize that you are construing this as me "blaming" Biglaw salaries for the current crisis, but I hope you can see the difference.
What I am also claiming is that Biglaw associates don't financially realize the benefit from NYC to $160K because most of that extra salary is "captured" by the elite schools in the form of student loan payments. I'd much rather start out at $80K with $80K of school debt than $160K with $240K of school debt.