Thursday, March 14, 2013

UNLV Boyd School of Law Ranked #68

As a commenter already mentioned, the new US News & World Report Rankings were posted this week. According to the Sun, the UNLV Boyd School of Law achieved its highest ranking ever when it tied for #68 with 8 other schools. The best quote from the article comes from Interim Dean Nancy Rappaport, "The ranking is great for the school, but she urged prospective students to also note any school’s bar passage and job placement rates."  

Congratulations to Boyd's faculty, staff, students, and alumni on moving on up the rankings in the short time it has been in existence. As much fun as it is to mock, it's nice to have a local law school to churn out future members of the local bar and judiciary. Cheers!


  1. ". . . it's nice to have a local law school to churn out future members of the local bar and judiciary"

    There are some reasons that having a local school is "nice". Adding lawyers to an already-stressed legal job market is not one of them. I frequently feel pity for these new grads with six-figure student loan balances and very few quality job prospects.

  2. No disrespect to Boyd, but #68? Does anyone really care what school is ranked 68. And that spot is shared with multiple schools. So, then there are conceivably more than 67 schools ahead on the list? This US News deal makes no sense to me.

  3. No, there are not more than 67 schools ahead of it on the list. Ties are ranked equally, with the next ranking skipping over the appropriate number of schools. For example, ASU and BU are tied at 29th. The next ranked school is Boston College, at 31. So there is no 30th ranked school. A ranking of 68 means there are 67 schools ranked higher.

    And a ranking of 68 is decent. It isn't great, but it's better than dropping under 150 and not being ranked at all. Or being ranked at 124. (McGeorge)

  4. Interim Dean Nancy Rappaport's further comments on rankings:


    These numbers make it pretty clear there is literally zero need for a law school at UNLV. Only 2/3 of its graduates are employed in full-time, permanent bar required legal positions nine months after graduation. Maybe that wouldn't be so bad except the non-discounted, debt financed cost of attendance at UNLV is now $210,000. A law degree from UNLV isn't worth a third of that.

    The harsh truth is that if Boyd closed tomorrow, the Vegas market would still be saturated for years to come. The long-term demand for lawyers in Las Vegas is easily met by other schools in the southwest (U of A, ASU, Utah, BYU, etc).

  6. $210,000? Is that pretty much inline with law schools these days? Of course that does buy you the distinction of attending No. 68 on the list.

  7. 2:27,

    There are better schools on the list that cost much, much less (See: BYU).

    The truth is that a lot of the kids at UNLV are there because they couldn't get into BYU.

  8. 2:15-How exactly are you calculating the "worth" of a law degree? The majority of my Boyd graduating class came out with around 60k in debt. That number pales in comparison to the debt of most of the attorneys I know -attorneys that went to other, perhaps higher ranked schools but landed in the same firm as me and now make the same six figure salary. You are also forgetting the positive impact that Boyd's students have on the community as a whole via clinics and various community outreach programs.

  9. Also not sure why anyone would refer to a "non-discounted" costs of attending UNLV. Every law student I knew was getting in-state tuition after the first year, if not before. And there was a ton of financial aid available too.

    Furthermore, whether you're talking about #68 or #48 -- heck, anything outside the T14 -- it's a financial gamble to go to law school on student loans.

  10. 2:15 here.

    3:24, when did you graduate? Just a few years ago, Boyd was reasonably priced. Now, it's 35k (in state) and 25k (out of state).

    According to this self-reported, unaudited information, UNLV 2012 had an AVERAGE debt of $92,000. This figure does not include interest that accrued during law school nor does it include undergrad debt. Including accrued interest, the average debt (not including undergrad) is $107,000.00.

    Amortized over 25 years at 6.8% (those are the terms of federal amortization loans), a UNLV 2012 grad will need to pay a minimum of $742.00 a month. That's $8,904 a year. Over the course of repayment, an average UNLV 2012 grad will pay $222,000 in principal and interest.

    Now, let's go back to the annual payment- just $8,904.

    "The rule of thumb is to borrow no more than half of your starting salary"

    By this standard, the average UNLV 2012 grad will need to secure employment paying about $185,000.00 per year. I'm guessing that ATMS pays its associates something short of that (never worked there, couldn't say for sure!).

    Another common metric is that one shouldn't borrow more than their starting salary.

    However, look here:

    Only 15% (!!!) of UNLV's Class of 2012 were known to have jobs with salaries of 75k or more 9 months after graduation.

    Obviously, by either metric, or just about ANY metric, a UNLV law degree isn't worth what they're charging.

    Keep in mind all of these numbers assume ZERO undergrad debt, however, most undergrads now graduate with about 20k of debt.

    Now, there are obviously some very talented people who attended UNLV. But their talent and their desire to do good isn't a replacement for demand for their services. There isn't enough to justify UNLV continuing on.

    Of course, we all know that UNLV will continue to have a law school, pretty much forever. It's ***prestigious*** for a university to have a law school. The adminstrators and profs make comfortable, handsome salaries. It's the type of rent-seeking that goes on in perpetuity- the costs (born by students) are dispersed while the benefits are concentrated.

    So UNLV runs clinics for the poor? That is genuinely good. However, we could do that without a law school for mere table crumb of Boyd's current operating budget. Or we could just send the poor to the very affordable ferallegals around town. We all know they practice law on the cheap anyway and they have far more experience than a 3L.

    It's too bad though. It's absolutely clear that Nevada, UNLV and Las Vegas have ZERO need for a law school.

  11. Utah is now ahead of BYU--lullllzzzz. It must have been the move to the PAC 12.

  12. Amen 3:54. This is what I try to explain to every person who asks me about his/her desire to go to law school...

  13. 2:15/3:54 here.


    This is why I have absolutely no sympathy for anyone stupid enough to enroll in law school, UNLV or otherwise, in 2013. The information is out there, but the OL's willfully ignore it.

    Also, while we're talking about UNLV, their grads suck at writing. There. I said it.

  14. 3:46 nailed it. Anyone who believes otherwise is just another person who attended a school between 15 and 67.

  15. 3:46 said: "it's a financial gamble to go to law school on student loans"

    More like financial suicide. I'm 17 years out and will make my last payment this year. I've done reasonably well; but I often wonder whether I'd have been better off if 20 years ago I had simply gone into the work force instead of taking 3 years off and borrowing $75k. I've paid a ton of interest to the bank.

    1. These days, the hip thing to do it pay a little interest to the bank, and then get slammed with a huge tax bill in 20 years when your debt gets forgiven. Thank you, IBR!

  16. If the rule of thumb is to borrow no more than your starting salary, then what degrees (at any level) are worth it these days? I'll venture not very many.

    So the best law school for a starting salary is Columbia @ 165K. Tuition this year is over 50K.

    The issue isn't Boyd vs other schools its the uncontrolled rise in higher education costs over the last 10-15 years. So if we follow the logic lets just get rid of higher ed all together.

  17. Somewhere I saw this advice... Do not go to law school unless you're going to T14 or you have a full ride scholarship. I don't know that I'd take it quite to the extreme, but there are a lot of people who probably wish they had heard that counsel before going.

  18. going to unlv was a great choice for me. I was making 75k in my day job and I was able to get a full scholarship to go to unlv at night. now Im a junior associate and I make 150k. I certainly think Im better off than I would have been if I quit my job to go to byu (I didnt apply but Im sure I could have been accepted there).

    I do agree with the top 14 or full ride advice

  19. To 12:30 am. what size if firm are you at and how selective are they? I ask because I think the summa unlv grads who end up at snell, L&r, lsc, etc are very good writers. the bottom of the class boyd students that hang a shingle or do immigration are obviously worse.

    I would imagine that students at almost all schools are the same. id bet that bottom of the class at byu is pretty bad too

  20. I have to disagree on the advice that a student should only go to a T14 school or get a full ride to go to law school. If you goal is to work for "big law," right out of law school, then maybe that's good advice. I wouldn't know - I had zero desire to work for big law at any point in law school so never made the attempt to see if "big law" would hire me while I was in law school.

    But, there are jobs out there for people who graduate top 50% from a top-35 or 50 school that pay a first year salary equal to the student loans for three years of tuition. It may not be big law and it may require you to practice in an office outside of a ten block radius of downtown Las Vegas, but they are out there, even today.

    And, once you are 3-5 years out of law school, no one cares where you went. At that point, it's all based on what you have done since you graduated. I was a student that was a top 50% student at a top 35 to 50 law school. Nothing special about my resume at all. But, at about the 4-6 year mark of my career, I was turning down overtures from Nevada and West Coast-style "big law" firms.

    I would attribute my success to a few things - I'm reliable, I'm not an ass and I do good work. I'm not particularly brilliant when it comes to the law, nor am I in any sense of the word a rain maker. The other attorneys I know who have also "risen" above their school and class rankings also have these attributes.

    So, IMHO, whoever is telling kids not to go to law school if they can't go T14 is doing them a disservice. I, and most of the attorneys I know, are living proof that isn't true at all. Hell, one of the most successful attorneys I know (if you measure success by money and working at big law) was a middle of the road Cal Western graduate.

  21. This video is horrifying. Family court.

  22. "The other attorneys I know who have also "risen" above their school and class rankings also have these attributes.

    "So, IMHO, whoever is telling kids not to go to law school if they can't go T14 is doing them a disservice."

    Classic survivor bias.

    There are literally hundreds of thousands of JD's with impressive credentials who have been forced out of the profession or never had an opportunity to enter it.

    Only a fool would enroll in law school this fall, and that includes UNLV.

  23. 1:29 PM said: "Do not go to law school unless you're going to T14 or you have a full ride scholarship"

    That's not bad advice; but there are other acceptable options:

    1. Pay for it with money you've saved prior to law school.

    2. Have a solvent parent/relative/other benefactor pay for it.

    3. Work while in law school and pay as you go.

    I think the better advice is: don't BORROW for law school.

  24. and certainly don't BORROW to go to any non-T14 school

  25. So... you are suggesting that anyone who wants to go to law school should be:
    1. Independently wealthy enough to have ~200k saved up.
    2. Fortunate enough to have a wealthy relative who is willing to just give you the money.
    3. Willing to either lie on the ABA 304 certification or attend law school part-time while you work in a job that will pay you enough to afford $15-20k per year in tuition. (Although why you would go to LS if you already had a job that was paying you $15-20k per year more than you needed for living expenses, all while permitting you enough free time to attend LS is beyond me. Do you want to practice law for fun?)

    Got it.

  26. ...Or do well enough on the LSAT to get a decent scholarship and/or entry to a top-tier school. That was the original premise, don't forget.

  27. Actually, 12:43, that's about right.

    For the overwhelming majority, it is financial foolishness to borrow the $150k - 200k that it takes to go to law school. The legal employment market just won't allow most graduates to service that kind of debt. Perhaps if the aspiring law student were admitted to a school like Yale or Stanford it might make some sense to borrow. But most students with credentials for those schools would likely get a scholarship.

    What 8:32 and those similarly-minded are likely suggesting is that it makes no sense to borrow for a run-of-the-mill JD. The weight of that kind of debt will unreasonably burden the life of all but the very highest-paid law grads.

    Only under the rarest of circumstances is a JD worth its financial price. It never makes sense to borrow to purchase something that's not worth its price. And so that's why it probably only makes sense for those with access to disposable money. To deny that is to deny the objective truth.

    This much is sure: if the people indending to borrow the full cost for schools like Boyd and Cal Western and Golden Gate and Thomas Jefferson were thoroughly educated and honestly advised, in advance, with accurate information about debt service and employment prospects, many fewer would enroll. The economy does not currently have a need for graduates of second- and third-tier law schools.

  28. Who is the idiot that said $210,000? For in state it roughly costs 20 grand a year...

    1. Law students have this thing about being able to have a roof over their head and something to eat every day.

  29. Another option is to take the night program while working. I will only have about $40,000 in loans by the time I graduate (and I'm not receiving any other aide). It takes 4 years to finish, but it is well worth it to avoid massive debt.