Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Administration Gets it Right: Boalt Won't See Further Fee Increases this Year

Dean Edl*y just sent an email to the student body stating that we'll all be getting roughly $1100 in scholarship money to offset the 9.6% increase agreed on by the UC Regents last week.

Edl*y wrote that the increase came too late and that the school would be able to absorb the rise for this year. He also predicts that UC tuition will continue to rise over the years as the state continues to defund the system.

Here's the full text of the letter:
Dear Students:
I am sure that many of you have heard about the recent fee increase approved by the Regents last week. At their meeting on Thursday, the Regents voted to increase system-wide fees for all students, including professional students, by $1,068 for the coming year. The Regents concluded, and I agree, that the budget deal struck in Sacramento left the UC system with no alternative. The state's retreat from higher education continues what has become a sad trend in recent years, not just here in California, but across the nation.

This state's retreat has been most acute at the professional schools. Bitter though this pill is for us to swallow, it does have one benefit: although we have less remaining state subsidy, we will have more financial flexibility, and more autonomy than do other academic units within the U.C. system.

I am choosing to exercise this autonomy in the coming year to effectively reverse this last minute fee increase for all three of our JD classes, including our new admits. Each JD student will receive an immediate, automatic scholarship in the amount of $1,068. The tuition increase is just too much, and it came too late. I am optimistic that the added costs to the law school of providing this financial aid can be offset by increased alumni donations as the economy recovers, and by continuing efforts to hold down less-than-essential expenses.

You may be wondering what, if anything, this portends for the future of fees here at UC broadly and at Berkeley Law School in particular. Unfortunately, it is likely that tuition at the University of California will continue to increase in the coming years. However, I am confident that total fees at Berkeley Law will not need to increase any faster than they do at other top-tier law schools in the years ahead. By our calculations—and murky disclosures make comparisons tricky—our tuition next year (net of the new automatic scholarship referenced above) will be comparable to those at the Universities of Michigan and Virginia and below those of many of our private competitors.

Obviously, I cannot make any guarantees about future tuition levels. What I can guarantee you is that Berkeley Law will remain a financially-competitive, intellectually-luminous, professionally cutting-edge, culturally-superior, and all around fabulous law school community in the decades to come. Count on it.
Maybe this was an easy decision, but it was still the right one.

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28 Comments:

Blogger McTwo said...

Thanks to the alumni donations for making this possible!

7/21/2011 3:48 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

. . . right . . .wrong . . . certainly this was a political no-brainer for the Dean, who has been having a rough go of it in the student polls of late.

7/21/2011 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks alumni! While its great that the dean has all these grandiose visions for our school, it seems like our administration is only dealing with half the equation. The number one way to deal with these increases is to ensure that graduates are placed in jobs where they can afford the price tag.

This is where our school is falling short and barely even pretending to try. It should be unacceptable to our school that we have grads doing secretarial work for low wages or even unemployment. But this is never addressed, and the school still seems to function on the reality that everyone is making 160k out of Boalt. Go to any meeting, this is always brought up as the justification for tuition.

I hope in the next couple of years the school will have advice beyond "EIP" and "network." There is a second side to this equation, our school needs to assist us in placing us in a position to pay these loans back. I have my doubts that graduating from a "stimulating" institution is much solace to the many who leave Boalt unemployed.

7/21/2011 4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4:12,

When you decided to attend law school did you think you were guaranteed a job at graduation? That you would have one no matter what?

7/21/2011 4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I interpreted the 99% employment figure as 99% employed, obviously a foolish mistake.

7/21/2011 4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Employed after 9 months.

7/21/2011 4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wrong, for the '09 rankings (the year I started) Boalt reported that the class of '08 was 99% employed at graduation and after 9 months

http://abovethelaw.com/2008/03/please-do-not-wet-yourself-with-excitement-the-2009-u-s-news-law-school-rankings/

7/21/2011 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4:30 can you explain how it was unreasonable for prospective students such as myself to pick up a USNews magazine, see our school reported 99% employment at graduation, and expect that I'd be able to get a job at graduation?

7/21/2011 6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least the CDO can stop charging huge fees for a firm to come to job fairs or EIW. That's how the CDO claim to help us find jobs.

Before this summer, I thought the CDO begged firms to come to the OCIP or EIW, in order to increase our job prospects.

I was told a few days ago that the CDO charges dearly firms that come to the OCIP, BCLT job fairs, etc.

If the CDO lowers the fees or stop charging the fees, more firms will come.

That's more effective than giving the so-called scholarship.

7/21/2011 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The CDO would rather have students be unemployed than interviewing at smaller firms because it would bring our median reported salary figure down.

7/21/2011 6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The CDO charges firms to come to campus? Is this true? Are they insane?

7/21/2011 8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smaller firms pay almost nothing. Only large firms pay a real fee. And trust me, large firms are much more concerned about attorney time than the relatively tiny CDO fee.

7/21/2011 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's disappointing to see that our school charges so much especially because OCI is the only chance to get a job that pays more than 50k. If I had known how dim the employment prospects were, I would have dropped out after OCI. The best you can hope for outside EIP in the private sector that I've seen is really a semi-paralegal private sector job paying around 50k.

7/21/2011 9:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:20 sounds like the kind of person who complains that it's impossible to meet women (or men) in bars. "The best you can hope for is . . ."

Do yourself a favor. Skip the self-pity, shut the fuck up, and look around. You'll be surprised by everything there is to see.

7/21/2011 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone who's conflating 99% employed 9 months after graduation and 99% employed at graduation need to read closer.

Additionally, it's up to you, the one spending $150k on a legal education, to investigate what employment means. If you really, honestly thought the day you entered law school that 99% of your classmates would be in full-time, non-temp jobs upon graduation my mind is fucking blown.

7/21/2011 9:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mind is blown on the lack of reading comprehension. Boalt reported 99% employment AT GRADUATION (not 9 Months after)
http://abovethelaw.com/2008/03/please-do-not-wet-yourself-with-excitement-the-2009-u-s-news-law-school-rankings
when I entered. I'm very confused on how believing this data makes people foolish.

7/21/2011 10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So people who don't have jobs at graduation are flabbergasted, blaming everyone but themselves. While people who do are telling them to STFU and get real and Boalt never placed all of their students in jobs. Not a lot of room for discourse there. Though I realize these are the fringes...

The fact is that there are a number of good jobs outside of OCIP. Anyone who has concluded otherwise - well, that's probably one of the big reasons you don't have a job yet. I known a number of 2011 graduates who got great jobs well after the fall of their 2L year - public sector, corporate, private environmental, plaintiff side, you name it. They were the ones who stayed positive, took every opportunity and offer for assistance seriously, and worked their peer/professional/faculty connections for all they were worth. And yes, there are a number of deserving candidates who did everything right and are still looking - but if they continue to be confident and positive, I doubt they will be unemployed for long.

There is absolutely zero use in blaming CDO, or acting like they don't want you to get jobs. You think they like the fact that they are failing to place students in desirable jobs? Sorry, but that's fucking moronic. Instead of looking for parties to blame, spend time building relationships with people in CDO, and, gasp, other professionals outside the CDO. Do a good job during your summer internships and academic externships, make connections with your superiors. Even if they don't have the resources to hire you, they will think of you when they hear of a job opening or go to bat for you when it comes time for a recommendation.

To those still searching, don't be 9:20, and give up on all hope. And to those who have jobs, help your unemployed classmates out at every opportunity, and never take cheap shots to shoot them down simply because fate deemed you worthy of a 80-hr/wk big firm sweatshop job. Don't forget that only two years ago, all of you were in the exact same position, and in two more, the tables could be flipped. Be grateful you have a job, don't be a dick.

As for Edley's response. I agree with Patrick to some extent. Certainly a good and much needed PR move. But I also think its important to note that if it was just PR move, it was a damn expensive one (around $800k in lost revenue by my estimation). Surely they could have gotten good PR for cheaper than that, and I think that just this once, DE is due a little credit on the tuition/fees issue.

7/21/2011 10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand the argument that people feel deceived by the employment statistics put out by law schools, but how material was that, in all honesty, in making people choose one school over another, or law school at all?

When I applied to law school, I did so because I wanted to be a lawyer. I had no idea what the job prospects were. Maybe I am an outlier, but it simply did not occur to me, when applying to law school, to pick up a magazine and evaluate the schools based on employment percentage. I simply wanted to go to the school with the highest academic and lowest douchiness ratio (hence ruling out a couple "higher ranked" schools).

I understand that a lot of people are pissed about the current job prospects of graduates, but, honestly, did you know the purported employment rates BEFORE you started? Maybe I was just incredibly irresponsible in my choice, but I have a feeling this "deceit" is more of a post hoc scapegoat.

7/22/2011 7:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:45 - Yes, I did know the employment stats before I started. I don't know whether you're an outlier for not looking into those stats, but unlike you, it DID "occur to me, when applying to law school, to pick up a magazine and evaluate the schools based on employment percentage." I know, what a crazy thing to do, right?

Also, I don't understand the thinking and sentiment behind the view that "it's up to you, the one spending $150k on a legal education, to investigate what employment means." The allegation is that law school employment statistics are misleading. Imagine making the "it's up to you" argument in front of a judge in a securities fraud case: "your honor, even assuming that my client did mislead investors, each of whom invested $150,000 in the enterprise, it was still the investors' own damn fault." Compelling.

7/22/2011 8:19 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

Well we can file that one under bull shit analogies, begging the question, etc. Yes, if you assume fraud, then there's fraud. And childish arguments like this just distract from meaningful discussions of transparency and accuracy in self-reported statistics by law schools, the ABA's abdication of its role in policing law schools, and a whole host of other issues that relate not just to employment statistics, but the whole genre of gaming rankings.

But going back to the childish arguments, you keep harping on this 99% number and then claiming it's fraud. Not once have you shown that the number was false when reported. You haven't shown basically any wrongdoing by anyone other than revealing your blissful ignorance. The only way anything you say would make sense is if someone claimed that 99% of graduates are employed at big firms. No one has stated that. Only statement was that 99% of graduates were employed. Anything beyond that is a figment of your imagination. If you took it upon yourself to look up that number, why didn't you take it upon yourself to look up the criticism of those figures by Brian Leiter and others? In fact, I'm rather pissed that someone links to Above the Law for employment statistics without linking to countless contemporaneous stories about mass layoffs at big firms. What did you think was happening? Did you think firms would continue to hire massive numbers of summer associates? Did you think two Bay Area firms folding was an abstraction? ("Just a blip...U.S. News says 99% were employed at graduation, ergo, I too will be employed at a job paying $160K"). Was that the thinking? I'm having trouble understanding the leap from 99% employed to 99% gainfully employed at the highest possible starting salary in the profession. These weren't some far off legends, my friends, my classmates were laid off, some still waiting for bar results. Having experienced that, I'm simply baffled how anyone can enter law school and think they are sure to land a firm job.

And yes, in securities litigation, you can't claim fraud if you were too stupid to understand what you were doing with your money. In fact, after Twombley you actually have to exclude that possibility.

7/22/2011 8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that the median private sector starting salary figure ($160K) is a figment of anyone's imagination, unless we're experiencing a shared hallucination here: http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/school-of-law-03016

Part of Armen's overall point is well-taken. The 99% stat (and similar stats) is not a representation to any student that he or she can expect a big law job. Even the median stat I cited above needs to be read carefully; at most, it means that a majority of graduates who have found employment in the private sector make at least $160K. It says nothing about the fraction of graduates who have found private-sector work.

7/22/2011 9:18 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

There's the additional caveat, 9:18, that starting salaries are actually bi-modal. If you're not in that initial peak, your starting salary is likely to be far lower. For historic reasons on this development, see this post by Bill Henderson.

7/22/2011 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I hear anecdotally, I wonder if the problem with Boalt's employment statistics fall more on the shoulders of alumni, in what has traditionally been an environment where it is easy to find jobs. I would speculate that alumni of lower-ranked schools have a long history of looking out for each other, and ensuring that new graduates have jobs. Our alumni, by contrast, aren't used to that and probably don't go to the mat as hard for fellow Boalties. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the reaction to an unemployed Boalt grad - by some, not all - is something like: "Wow. S/he must be really bad to not have found a job on her or his own..."

Just a thought...

7/22/2011 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just an observation:

On one hand, I hear so many students complain about horrible OCIP placement and allegedly fraudulent employment rates, and on the other hand, constantly harp that they don't really want to do biglaw anyway and only want to do public interest.

Then we have on one hand, Edl*y justifying the increase in tuition in part on graduate salaries (biglaw ones), but then derides biglaw work and encourages everyone to do public interest instead.

Which is it, people. I suspect on both extremes, there are people who only go one way, which is fine, but there is a big mushy middle that gets screwed because of all of this equivocating. Sure, there is a way to do both and I'm sure as Boalties we all want to do "what's right", but I think there is a lot of double-talk between what we want as outcomes from OCIP and what we say when the shadow of OCIP isn't around.

7/22/2011 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry 8:19,

In a securities fraud case it can be a defense to say "your honor, even assuming that my client did mislead investors, each of whom invested $150,000 in the enterprise, it was still the investors' own damn fault."

Read up on the truth on the market defense.

You can't plausibly claim to rely on one figure out of one publication when evidence of the state and trajectory of legal employment was clearly known to every single person with an ounce of common sense.

7/22/2011 11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can say that at least 90% of people want an OCIP job unequivocally despite the complaining (even though only a third or so of our class gets the jobs), and the effects of not getting an OCIP job are devastating. As described with the bimodal distribution, not getting an OCIP job means your loans are unrepayable and you will spend the next 10-25 years financially crippled with 200k debt on a 40k salary.

7/22/2011 11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Looking into employment stats - yes, many of us not only looked into them, meaning both the employment rate at graduation and at 9 mo, and the median pay rate, but also making decisions regarding scholarships based on that information. Did Boalt defraud us by making it very easy to imply that 99% employment + median salary of $160k = would probably get well-paid job? No, not really but were we crazy to make that inference? I'd say no.

Re: jobs through OCIP and not getting them - yes, it is devastating, emotionally, but no, it doesn't mean you will never ever get a "good" (ie well-paid) legal job. As a recent grad who failed to get a job through OCIP either year, I feel the pain of all my fellows. However, I did get good jobs for 2L summer and post-grad with little to no help from CDO and minimal personal networks. And while my pay hasn't, and won't be, $160k, it's also not $40k.

Re: what actually matters to all of us recent grads (not to diminish the concerns of others) - bar thread bump? I know many of my peers are in hiding by now, but for those of us still living, final thoughts? Comments?

7/22/2011 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In this thread: Hai CDO/Edley

7/22/2011 4:08 PM  

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