"How do law schools depict a feast amid so much famine?" asks David Segal in a nearly 5,000-word New York Times report on the grim, debt-laden reality of many American law students. The problem, as Segal sees it, is that some of these institutions have simply become "cash cows": they accept crops of students by painting job prospects as "downright rosy" even though the market has indicated that "openings for lawyers have plunged" (by one account, nearly 15,000 positions have "vanished" since 2008). Left in the lurch are students burdened by mountains of debt with little hope of landing a job enabling them to pay it off.
Singled out in Segal's article isn't just a debt problem that comes with a decision to pursue higher education. He observes that some law schools use "creative" methods to boost their rankings in the all-important U.S. News & World report survey. One result is that these institutions inflate the number of "graduates known to be employed nine months after graduation" by lumping in students who are employed anywhere. "Waiting tables at Applebee's? You're employed. Stocking aisles at Home Depot? You're working, too," Segal writes about the misleading statistics. It's not until after graduation that many "furious" students learn that the $160,000 median starting-salary that was promised by "many" of these law schools, doesn't exist.