What Use Is the BLS?

What is the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and what can it do for you? The BLS is an independent statistical agency that measures “labor market activity, working conditions, and price changes in the economy.” You’ve sampled BLS wares if you’ve relied upon the Consumer Price Index, unemmployment rates, or average wages.

ExamSoft: By the Numbers

Earlier this week I explained why the ExamSoft fiasco could have lowered bar passage rates in most states, including some states that did not use the software. But did it happen that way? Only ExamSoft and the National Conference of Bar Examiners have the data that will tell us for sure. But here’s a strong piece of supporting evidence:

ExamSoft After All?

Why did so many people fail the July 2014 bar exam? Among graduates of ABA-accredited law schools who took the exam for the first time last summer, just 75% passed. A year earlier, in July 2013, 80% passed. What explains a five-point drop in a single year? The ExamSoft debacle looked like an obvious culprit. […]

Needing Law Schools

I agree entirely with Noah Feldman that society needs law schools. He couldn’t have said it better. This, however, is exactly why law schools need to fix their financial model. Most schools lack the big endowments of Harvard and other elite schools. Students, meanwhile, are increasingly unwilling to pay so much more tuition than Feldman did in the 1990’s or I did in the 1970’s. We need to keep asking: Why does it cost so much more today to learn what the law “can be”?

How Many Lawyers?

A few years ago, I used employment projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to project the number of job openings for licensed lawyers during the current decade. At the time, BLS was the best available source for that type of projection; it remains a useful resource today. The BLS makes these predictions precisely to help workers, employers, and policymakers understand the likely demand for workers in particular occupations.

Why should law schools care about these predictions? As Michael Simkovic and Frank McIntyre show in two recent papers, a JD historically has conferred financial advantage (compared to entering the workforce with just a BA) even if graduates did not work as practicing lawyers. If law graduates reap financial returns from their degrees, regardless of the jobs they take, does it matter how many jobs they find as practicing lawyers?

Bankruptcy Petitions

Michael Sousa has written a thoughtful paper about the issue of non-lawyers preparing bankruptcy petitions for consumer debtors. As Sousa acknowledges, some of these preparers urge their clients to commit fraud; others serve their clients incompetently. But then again, the same is true of some bankruptcy lawyers–and the lawyers charge more than many consumers can afford.