Thursday, January 31, 2013

PL 3/13: Soaring tuition and crushing debt

Filed under: education, future — plinius @ 9:16 am

Quoted from The New York Times

Law school applications are headed for a 30-year low, reflecting increased concern over soaring tuition, crushing student debt and diminishing prospects of lucrative employment upon graduation. …

  • Such startling numbers have plunged law school administrations into soul-searching debate about the future of legal education and the profession over all. …
  • The drop in applications is widely viewed as directly linked to perceptions of the declining job market.

Many of the reasons that law jobs are disappearing are similar to those for disruptions in other knowledge-based professions, namely the growth of the Internet.

  • Research is faster and easier, requiring fewer lawyers, and is being outsourced to less expensive locales, including West Virginia and overseas.
  • In addition, legal forms are now available online and require training well below a lawyer’s to fill them out
  • In recent years there has also been publicity about the debt load and declining job prospects for law graduates, especially of schools that do not generally provide employees to elite firms in major cities.

Even lawyers (of the middling kind) are prone to disintermediation. MOOCs will probably have a similar impact on lecturers.

The jobs that survive are jobs that cannot (for the time being) be routinized:

  1. those at the very top – which demand exceptional skills
  2. those that require complex personal and practical skills

Candidates to (1) are recruited by competition. Candidates to (2) are recruited through long processes of formal and on-the-job training.


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