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*In "The real problem with law schools: They train too many lawyers," Eric Posner writes, "The figures are grim, and the human cost is real. Ninety-two percent of 2007 law school graduates found jobs after graduation, with 77 percent employed in a position requiring them to pass the bar. For the class of 2011 (the latest class for which there are data), the employment figure is 86 percent — with only 65 percent employed in a position that required bar passage. Preliminary employment figures for the class of

2012 are even worse. The median starting salary has declined from $72,000 in 2009 to $60,000 in 2012. A while back, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 218,800 new legal jobs would be created between 2010 and 2020. As law professor Paul Campos points out, because law schools graduate more than 40,000 students per year, those jobs should be snapped up by 2015 — leaving only normal attrition and retirement spots left for the classes of 2016 to 2020."

This is of particular relevance to Michigan, which is a hotbed of legal education. At any given time, the five law schools in the state -- three at public universities -- enroll nearly 7,000 students:

Cooley Law School -- 3,628

University of Michigan -- 1,149

Michigan State University* -- 946

University of Detroit Mercy -- 669

Wayne State University -- 570

(*All figures from this website, except for MSU.)

Ron French reported on the travails of one law-school graduate who racked up $100,000 in debt to get a degree.

Is it worth asking whether Michigan should have law schools located at three of its public universities?

*When the stakes for adults in K-12 testing go ever higher, it should not surprise that some will look to get to the proper results using any method at hand:

“The extent of the top-down malfeasance under Beverly Hall may be unprecedented, but as I report in this Slate piece, there is reason to believe that policies tying adult incentives to children’s test scores have resulted in a nationwide uptick in cheating. An investigation by the Atlanta Journal Constitution found 196 school districts across the country with suspicious test score gains similar to the ones demonstrated in Atlanta, which statisticians said had only a one in 1 billion likelihood of being legitimate.”

*An airline in the South Pacific will charge by weight. 

And an economist thinks that’s an excellent idea for other carriers to emulate.

land-o-FINALBut how would that play out in Michigan, which is unique for having a state law that bans discrimination based on weight?

*Michigan ranks no. 13 in the United States for total charitable giving, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The Chronicle’s handy search tool allows you to analyze giving on a variety of factors, such as giving as a percent of income by county.

On that measure, Michigan’s three most giving counties are: Ottawa, Kent and Missaukee.

You even can search by ZIP code. For example, 48503 in Flint gives an impressive 8.9 percent of income, or almost double the national average.

*Grand Rapids has begun work on its first “bus rapid transit” line. Keep an eye on this as BRT offers plenty of the advantages of other transit options, such as light rail, without the huge upfront costs.

 

About The Author

Derek Melot

Derek Melot is a former assistant editorial page editor, columnist and reporter at the Lansing State Journal, where he covered state and local issues extensively, earning awards from the Associated Press and Michigan Press Association. The Oklahoma native moved to Michigan in 1999, and served as Bridge editor through mid-2013.

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Thu, 04/11/2013 - 9:40am
I would imagine Michigan's actual attorney employment numbers are worse than the national average. You have gross over saturation of the employment market by law schools. You have a well-documented population loss in this State over the past decade. You have "judicial tort reform" which also put hundreds of attorneys out of work. I really hope the trustees at Western Michigan University take a good hard look at this proposed merger with Cooley Law School and give some consideration whether we need further expansion of law schools in this State. Another five hundred or so law students paying $150,000 for a law degree may seem like a no-brainer to the schools involved. However, the human cost to the students who are saddled with this non-dischargable debt on top of their undergraduate debt with no job that can possibly pay it off is staggering. Prospective law students need to really do their research and look for accurate employment statistics as well as debt counseling before starting down this road.