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法学院为什么这么招人恨?

2014-03-20    来源:fortunechina    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

法学院一度是社会精英的摇篮。但如今,随着法学专业毕业生就业率不断下滑,法学院已经成了千夫所指的对象。法学院到底犯了什么错?它为什么一夜之间就从云端跌落,陷入了四面楚歌的尴尬境地?

You know law schools are deeply troubled when you ask a dean what it feels like to be under constant fire and he answers the question with a question of his own.
当你询问一位法学院院长持续遭受抨击是什么感觉,而他反问了一个问题的时候,你就知道,这些院校确实碰到了大麻烦。

"When you say 'coming under fire,' what are we really talking about?" asks John Corkery, dean of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. "Which fire are we talking about?"
“你所说的‘遭受抨击’到底是在说什么?”芝加哥约翰•马歇尔法学院(John Marshall Law School)院长约翰•科克里反问道。“我们讨论的到底是来自哪一方面的抨击?”

You can't blame him for seeking clarity. Truth is, law schools have not merely fallen out of favor in recent years, as jobs have become scarce and unemployment among freshly minted JD graduates has soared. Law schools have become the most despised part of the academy.
大家不能责怪他对准确性的追求。事实是,近些年来,随着就业机会日益稀缺,新鲜出炉的法学博士毕业生的失业率不断飙升,法学院的境遇已不仅仅是“失宠”二字所能形容。这些院校已经成为最被人看不起的大学院系。

Most people associate lawyers with misery: an unfair lawsuit, a divorce. But at least previous attacks had come from outside of the profession. In recent years, plenty of criticism has come from insiders, mostly law school professors who acknowledge that schools have supplied far too many lawyers than the market can absorb, and from graduates who now carry six-figure debt loads and can't get jobs in law.
一提到律师,大多数人总会想起一些痛苦的经历:一场不公平的诉讼,离婚等等。但至少以前的攻击来自行业之外,而近年来涌现的大量批评声音则出自业内人士,基本上以法学院教授和毕业生为主。不少教授承认,法学院培养的律师数量供过于求,远远超出了市场的消化能力;大量的毕业生现在背负着高达六位数的债务负担,而且找不到专业对口的工作。

Corkery's school has been sued by its graduates for embellishing employment prospects. When asked if he considers his position difficult, though, he deflects: "The fire I'm thinking of is that there are a lot less people going to law school," he says.
科克里所在的法学院已经因涉嫌美化就业前景被该校毕业生起诉。不过,当我问科克里是否认为自己的处境很艰难时,他话锋一转,说道:“我正在思考的批评意见是,现在上法学院的学生比以前少多了。”

It's telling that Corkery first lists a problem that afflicts the schools rather than the graduates. He's on the mark about one thing, though: Law schools are trying to put out fires from all directions.
科克里首先列举了一个困扰法学院、而不是毕业生的问题,这的确耐人寻味。但有一件事他倒是说到点子上了,那就是:法学院正在疲于应对来自四面八方的猛烈抨击。

For the past three years, the media has picked up the attacks with relish. The New York Times, in an article on a graduate with $250,000 in loans, put it this way: "Is Law School a Losing Game?" Referring to the graduate, the Times wrote, "His secret, if that's the right word, is to pretty much ignore all the calls and letters that he receives every day from the dozen or so creditors now hounding him for cash," writes the author. Or consider this blunt headline from a recent Business Insider article: "'I Consider Law School A Waste Of My Life And An Extraordinary Waste Of Money.'" Even though the graduate profiled in the piece had a degree from a Top 20 law school, he's now bitterly mired in debt. "Because I went to law school, I don't see myself having a family, earning a comfortable wage, or having an enjoyable lifestyle," he writes. "I wouldn't wish my law school experience on my enemy."
过去的三年中,媒体针对法学院发起了一波又一波攻势,而且乐此不疲。《纽约时报》(The New York Times)曾经报道过一位背负25万美元贷款的毕业生,还为这篇文章起了这样一个标题:“读法学院是一场注定要失败的游戏吗?”谈到这位毕业生时,《纽约时报》写道,“他的秘密(如果用这个词合适的话)是,每天基本上忽略来自十几位债权人的电话和信函,这些人现在整天追着他讨债。”财经新闻网站《商业内幕》(Business Insider )最近一篇报道的标题则更加犀利:“我认为上法学院纯粹是浪费生命,大把大把地烧钱。”尽管这篇文章刻画的主人公毕业于一所排名位列前20的法学院,但他现在也被沉重的债务压得痛苦不堪。“我还没有成家,没有挣到体面的工资,令人愉悦的生活方式更是遥不可及。这一切全是当初选择上法学院惹的祸,”他写道。“我甚至都不忍心诅咒我的死对头遭遇我就读法学院的经历。”

Why are law schools being singled out? After all, the recent recession left Americans with an endless supply of things to complain about. (Corkery casually noted that journalism school graduates aren't doing that well, either.)
为什么大家专挑法学院说事?毕竟,最近这波经济衰退给美国人留下了太多太多值得抱怨的事情。(科克里漫不经心地指出,新闻学院毕业生的日子也不好过。)

One theory is simple: everyone's jealous. Bryant Garth, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine who helped author a study on buyers' remorse among law school graduates, suggests that law school haters just want to see the frontrunners fail.
有一种理论很简单:法学院毕业生招人嫉妒。加州大学欧文分校(University of California, Irvine)法学教授布莱恩特•加思曾经撰写过一份研究报告,探讨法学院毕业生为什么产生“购买后悔症” (buyer’ remorse)。在他看来,憎恨法学院的那些人仅仅是希望看到领跑者最终遭遇失败的那一幕。

"The law degree has always been, in this country, the default degree for ambitious and talented people, who've then gone into business, have gone into politics, gone into law practice, gone into a whole range of areas," Garth says. "And basically everybody who is ambitious thinks about whether or not they want to go to law school." Perhaps it's satisfying to proclaim that those know-it-alls have been making the wrong choice all along.
“在这个国家,法律学位一直是青年才俊的不二选择。走出校园后,他们要么经商,要么从政,要么独立执业。总之,法学院毕业生拥有非常广阔的人生舞台,”加思说。“几乎每一位雄心勃勃的年轻人都会考虑要不要去读法学院。”现在宣称这些学霸的专业选择自始至终都是错的,或许会让人感到非常惬意。

But while there's some merit to that theory, it doesn't explain the fact that plenty of law school graduates have spoken out against the system. Statements like "I consider law school a waste of my life" don't exactly save face.
这种理论固然有一定道理,但它无法解释另一个事实:大量的法学院毕业生纷纷倒戈,猛烈抨击这套体系。像“我认为上法院纯粹是浪费生命”这样的声明肯定不会挽回法学院的面子。

A 28-year-old civil litigator and graduate of Boston College has a different theory. "It's sort of cathartic -- someone finally said it," Benjamin Winterhalter says. Winterhalter, who's written for Slate about the law school crisis, describes longstanding resentment among graduates -- resentment that has exploded in the face of economic conditions that no longer favor lawyers.
一位毕业于波士顿学院(Boston College)、现年28岁的民事诉讼律师有一套不同的理论。“这其实就是一种精神宣泄——终于有人说破这一点了,”本杰明•温特哈尔特说。温特哈尔特曾经为网络杂志《石板》(Slate)撰写过一篇文章,探讨法学院面临的危机。在他看来,毕业生相互间的怨恨情绪早已有之。一旦经济形势不再有利于律师,这种怨恨就会全面爆发。

Since the 1970s, an intellectual movement by the name of "law and economics" has steadily crept through law schools, Winterhalter says. The idea is that the law's usefulness should be measured by how smoothly it lets the market function. "I think that ideological shift means that it's often very difficult for people to feel able to critique law school, because they sort of go to law school and they hear, 'Oh, it's the free market, everyone makes choices, I made a choice to go to law school, you get what you get,'" he explains. "There's something very seductive about that sort of thinking, but it also leads to some people feeling kind of powerless.... There's this whole complex repressed anger, and I think that comes out."
温特哈尔特说,自上世纪70年代以来,一场名为“法律经济学”(law and economics)的思潮开始悄无声息地席卷各大法学院。这场思想运动主张,法律的有效性应该由它能够在多大程度上帮助市场平稳运行来衡量。“我认为,意识形态的这种转变意味着,人们往往觉得批判法学院是一件很难做到的事情。原因是,走进法学院,他们听到的是,‘哦,这是自由市场,每个人都在选择,我选择上法学院,所选即所得,’”他解释说。“这种思维方式很有诱惑性,但它也导致一些人产生一种无力感……许多人怒火中烧,这种成因复杂的情绪过去被压抑了,我觉得它现在爆发了。”

Corkery maintains that getting a well-paying job has never been part of the deal at John Marshall. "We never promised that, and don't promise it," he says. "What we promise is that you get a really good legal education that can serve you well for the rest of your life."
科克里坚称,在约翰•马歇尔法学院,获得一份高薪工作从来都不是交易的组成部分。“我们从来没有承诺过这一点,现在也没有承诺,”他说。“我们的承诺是,你可以获得极具品质、对你的前程非常有利的法学教育。”

Schools aren't fairy godmothers with the power to bestow sparkly jobs upon all of their graduates. But placing little weight on the fact that professional schools exist to help people enter aprofession -- to help people move up in the world -- amounts to willful ignorance. Why else would employment rates factor into every popular school ranking? (For the record, only 18.7% of John Marshall's class of 2011 was employed at graduation, according to U.S. News).
法学院不是从天而降的仙女,它并不拥有无边的法力,可以赐予所有毕业生熠熠闪光的工作机会。然而,专业院校的存在就是为了帮助人们进入某个行业(从而帮助他们攀登事业高峰),无视这个事实其实就是在故意装傻。不然的话,为什么每一份备受认可的法学院排行榜都把毕业生就业率纳入考量范畴呢?【根据《美国新闻与世界报道》( U.S. News)提供的数字,约翰•马歇尔法学院2011届毕业生的就业率仅为18.7%。】

Even worse, Corkery's statement is at odds with the account of Amy Cramer, a John Marshall graduate who left with $250,000 in loans and spent almost two years without full-time work; she just recently started her own firm. She owes much of her staggering debt to an LL.M. she pursued in employee benefits. "I was certainly led to believe that employee benefits was the wave of the future with Obamacare, and that people would be knocking down my door to get me to work for them," Cramer says. "And that has not happened. I don't know if it's a matter of time, but I don't see those jobs out there for Obamacare, and so that has certainly been a disappointment."
更糟糕的是,科克里的说法与艾米•克莱默的叙述存在分歧。从约翰•马歇尔法学院毕业时,克莱默背负着25万美元未偿贷款,此后差不多两年都没有找到全职工作;她最近刚刚创办了自己的公司。这笔惊人债务基本上都是在攻读法学硕士期间欠下的。她当时追求的是雇员福利。“在他们的引导下,我当然相信,随着奥巴马医改方案(Obamacare)的实施,雇员福利将成为未来的潮流,而且会不断有人主动上门,邀请我为他们工作,”克莱默说。“这一幕还没有发生。我不知道这是不是迟早的事,但我并没有看到奉行奥巴马医改方案的工作机会。毫无疑问,这种境遇令人非常失望。”

So, then, if getting a legal education isn't about getting a job, why bother selling it like it is?
那么,如果接受法学教育与找工作无关,为什么法学院还要以毕业后能够找到好工作为卖点呢?

J.D.s certainly don't come cheap. It's almost unheard of to attend law school without taking out significant loans. What's more, the average debt load is mounting: in 2001-2002, JDs borrowed on average $46,500 at public law schools and $70,000 at private law schools; by 2011, those numbers rose to $75,700 and $125,000, respectively.
攻读法学博士当然不便宜。我几乎从未听说过有哪位学生不借一大笔贷款就能读得起法学院。更重要的是,法学院学生的平均债务负担一直在攀升:2001至2002学年,公立法学院的在读博士人均举债46,500美元,私立法学院的这个数字为7万美元;到了2011年,这两个数字分别为75,700美元和125,000美元。

If you think the debt is spread around evenly, think again. "The financial aid structure at so many law schools is exactly the reverse of what it is at just about any other educational institution," Winterhalter says. "The bottom of the entering class -- which tends to be women, tends to be minorities, tends to be people from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds -- effectively subsidizes the top of the class, who get merit-based scholarships." In the scramble for higher rankings, law schools focus on reeling in high-scoring candidates rather than helping students who might need it most.
如果大家认为这些债务呈均匀分布,请再想一想。“众多法学院的经济资助结构与几乎任何其他教育机构的情形刚好相反,”温特哈尔特说。“入学成绩最低的学生(往往是女性,少数族裔,或是来自社会经济背景处于弱势的家庭)实际上在补贴入学成绩最高的学生,后者往往能够获得奖学金。”为了争夺更高的排名,法学院一门心思地招揽高分申请者,而不是帮助那些或许最需要帮助的学生。

This starting point doesn't contribute to warm feelings for law school, which is a notoriously strange atmosphere to begin with. Winterhalter says it's a lot like the reality show "The Bachelor." "Everyone sort of pretends to get along, but it's very clear that beneath the veneer, there's a sort of lingering tension that comes from people's competitive drive," he says.
这个起点当然无助于提升学生对法学生的温情,法学院起始年级的气氛非常诡异。温特哈尔特说,这种情形非常像真人秀《单身汉》(The Bachelor)。他说:“每个人都假装彼此相处融洽,但在假象之下,显然存在一股挥之不去、因为竞争压力导致的紧张感。”

And if the law school of your dreams says it's not like the others, you might want to take that claim with a grain of salt. "There's a saying at Boston College that it's the Disneyland of law schools," Winterhalter says. "Apparently, it's supposed to be a metaphor for how nice and friendly and warm and welcoming it is. To me, this is the ... the perfect metaphor for how sort of phony people are about the fact that they're being competitive. At the end of the day, it's still a rigidly hierarchical school. It's graded on a curve. Only a certain number of people can get in. There are big classes where people are fighting to be at the top, and it seems like that social dynamic is just too powerful to be completely overridden, no matter how hard you try to be nice."
如果你渴望迈入的法学院声称自己与众不同,你最好不要全盘接受这种说辞。“有一种说法是,波士顿学院堪称法学院中的迪斯尼乐园(Disneyland),”温特哈尔特说。“这显然只是一个比喻,旨在强调这所法学院多么友善,多么热情。在我看来,这个比喻形象地表明,它的学生们正在非常虚伪地掩饰自己相互竞争的事实。说到底,它依然是一所层级分明的学校。它依然奉行曲线评分模式。只有一定数量的人才能进入这所学校。在人数众多的大班,学生们你追我赶,力争上游。这种相互竞争的动力似乎过于强大。因此,不管大家多么努力地摆出一副友善的表情,都很难完全掩盖。”

When competitive people work hard and don't get what they want, the result isn't pretty. "I think that often, they feel like what they thought was a mode of moving up in the world ends up just sort of stagnating them economically, and I think that, broadly speaking, people feel sort of bitter about that," Winterhalter says. "That certainly makes people more receptive to critiques of law school and to ideological examinations of what's going on."
如果极具竞争意识的学生奋发图强,但没有获得他们想要的东西,那就会造成非常不美妙的后果。“我认为,很多时候,这些学生会觉得真实的世界与他们原来的想象大相径庭。他们非但没有步步高升,就连收入也陷于停滞。我认为,从广义上讲,他们会产生某种仇恨心理,”温特哈尔特说。“这种心理当然让人们更容易接受对法学院的各种批判,以及那些从意识形态角度对法学院现状发出的拷问。”

So, there you have it: Law school's perfect storm. As an educational institution, it admits highly ambitious students, pits them against each other with little attempt to level the financial playing field, and releases them into a market that can't absorb them. When students struggle, schools shrug and say they never guaranteed employment in the first place.
法学院经受的完美风暴就是这样酝酿而成的。法学院作为一家教育机构招收了一大批雄心勃勃的学生。它几乎没有尝试过要消除学生们之间存在的经济条件不平等,直接让他们相互竞争,最后又把他们扔进一个根本无力消化他们的劳动力市场之中。而当学生陷于困境的时候,学院方面只是耸耸肩,大言不惭地说什么,它们当初根本就没有保证过毕业后一定能找到专业对口的工作。

But there's some evidence that law schools are taking steps to put out the fires. In the past few months, schools such as the University of Iowa, Penn State, and Roger Williams University have cut tuition.
但有一些证据表明,法学院正在采取措施平息如潮水般涌来的指责。过去几个月,爱荷华大学(University of Iowa)、宾州州立大学(Penn State)和罗杰•威廉姆斯大学(Roger Williams University)等学校相继削减了法学院的学费。

Even Corkery has some disarmingly practical advice for prospective lawyers. "You know, you might not be able to afford to go where you want to," he says. "I think tuition from public schools to private runs from around $13,000 to $16,000 a year, up to probably $56,000 to $57,000." Full-time tuition at John Marshall is $41,304 per year.
为了打消申请者的戒心,就连科克里也给未来的律师们提供了一些实用的建议。“你可能上不起你心目中的首选院校,”他说。“据我了解,公立和私立法学院一年的学费相差很多,前者大约是13,000到16,000美元,后者可能高达56,000到57,000美元。”约翰•马歇尔法学院每年的全日制学费为41,304美元。

"Now, where are those low-tuition law schools?" he adds. "They're just in pockets across the country. One thing you might do is explore schools with lower tuition and see if you can get admitted and work out financing to go there."
“那么,这些收费低廉的法学院在哪里找呢?”他补充道。“其实全美各地都有这样的学校。你可能要做的一件事情是,好好地了解一下这些低收费院校,看看能否被录取,能否制定一个去那里上学的融资计划。”

Institutional reforms aside, maybe the best first step is a little more real talk.
暂且不谈机构改革,多说一些真心话或许是改善法学院处境的第一步。(财富中文网)



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