>@ Balkanization: Que deveres têm os professores de Direito diante das deficiências do ensino jurídico e das dificuldades do mercado de trabalho?

Rafael Mafei Rabelo Queiroz

19 Outubro 2011 | 16h49

>Um grande amigo meu que é juiz e me dá a honra de ler este blog diz que eu ando cornetando muito o Judiciário e que pego deveras no pé da toga. Garanto que é tudo puramente contingencial. É só porque o CNJ está na pauta do dia. Vontade de cornetar o Ministério Público e a “minha” OAB não faltam, pode ter certeza.

Para deixar a toga em paz e mostrar que não sou corporativista, posto agora algo incômodo para a minha classe – os professores. Fica este post autoflagelante como minha homenagem macunaímica ao Dia do Professor, recém passado.

Transcrevo abaixo um artigo de Brian Z. Tamanaha, sociólogo e teórico do direito havaiano (sim, ele surfa nas horas vagas) e atualmente professor da Universidade de Washington em Missouri, publicado no blog Balkinization. Ele se pergunta, como docente que é, que culpa têm os professores de Direito pelas frustrações de muitos egressos de faculdades menos prestigiadas que, não obstante bacharéis, não conseguem qualquer desenvolvimento profissional em carreiras jurídicas. Mais importante ainda, Tamanaha se pergunta ainda o que deve fazer o professor que, conhecedor da realidade do mercado de trabalho jurídico, ajuda a diplomar um aluno que ele próprio sabe, ou ao menos intui, que não superará sequer os primeiros obstáculos de qualquer carreira jurídica.

Seu argumento é baseado no mercado norteamericano, mas é transponível, e ampliável, para Pindorama: temos quase oito vezes mais faculdades de direito do que os EUA, embora sejamos menores em qualquer critério relevante para a mensuração do mercado de trabalho jurídico (economia ou população, por exemplo). Ouvi um dado há alguns dias que não tive tempo de confirmar, mas que me impressionou tanto que o repito sempre que posso: o Brasil tem mais faculdades de Direito do que o resto do mundo todo somado. (já estamos com mil, quinhentas e la vai pedrada). Quando se tem qualquer coisa em número maior do que Índia, China, Rússia e EUA somados – exceção feita a títulos mundiais de futebol – algo está de fato muito esquisito.

A resposta óbvia a esse estado de coisas é dizer que o professor deve passar que tem condição de ser aprovado, e reprovar que não tem. Em muitas faculdades isso funciona: aquelas em que a seleção de alunos no vestibular é minimamente rígida. Em outras, não, por razões mercadológicas. Conheço uma pessoa que se inscreveu para o vestibular de Direito na “Uniesquina”, não apareceu para fazer a prova e dias depois recebeu correspondência parabenizando pelo sucesso no vestibular… A insistência do professor na reprovação num ambiente “uniesquínico” possivelmente custará o seu emprego. Mas mesmo nesses casos, a pergunta não desaparece, apenas se modifica: o professor tem o dever ético de arriscar sua demissão para não compactuar com um tal projeto pseudo-educacional? Ou está desculpado, por necessidade profissional, para participar de um tal esquema de usucapião constitucional, pago em 60 mensalidades ao longo de cinco anos, do diploma de bacharel em Direito?  Minha opinião está razoavelmente clara a esta altura, pelo tom do post, embora deva dizer que ela seja muito facilitada pelo fato de eu jamais ter sido posto na situação de dar aula sob esse tipo de pressão.

Abaixo, o artigo do Tamanaha.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wake Up, Fellow Law Professors, to the Casualties of Our Enterprise

Brian Tamanaha

It’s grim reading. The observations are raw, bitter, and filled with despair. It is easier to avert our eyes and carry on with our pursuits. But please, take a few moments and force yourself to look at Third Tier Reality, Esq. Never, Exposing the Law School Scam, Jobless Juris Doctor, Temporary Attorney: The Sweatshop Edition, and linked sites. Read the posts and the comments. These sites are proliferating, with thousands of hits.

Look past the occasional vulgarity and disgusting pictures. Don’t dismiss the posters as whiners. To a person they accept responsibility for their poor decisions. But they make a strong case that something is deeply wrong with law schools.

Their complaint is that non-elite law schools are selling a fraudulent bill of goods. Law schools advertise deceptively high rates of employment and misleading income figures. Many graduates can’t get jobs. Many graduates end up as temp attorneys working for $15 to $20 dollars an hour on two week gigs, with no benefits. The luckier graduates land jobs in government or small firms for maybe $45,000, with limited prospects for improvement. A handful of lottery winners score big firm jobs.

And for the opportunity to enter a saturated legal market with long odds against them, the tens of thousands newly minted lawyers who graduate each year from non-elite schools will have paid around $150,000 in tuition and living expenses, and given up three years of income. Many leave law school with well over $100,000 in non-dischargeable debt, obligated to pay $1,000 a month for thirty years.

This dismal situation was not created by the current recession—which merely spread the pain up the chain into the lower reaches of elite schools. This has been going on for years.

The law graduates posting on these sites know the score. They know that law schools pad their employment figures—96% employed—by counting as “employed” any job at all, legal or non-legal, including part time jobs, including unemployed graduates hired by the school as research assistants (or by excluding unemployed graduates “not currently seeking” a job, or by excluding graduates who do not supply employment information). They know that the gaudy salary numbers advertised on the career services page—“average starting salary $125,000 private full time employment”—are actually calculated based upon only about 25% of the graduating class (although you can’t easily figure this out from the information provided by the schools). They know all this because they know of too many classmates who didn’t get jobs or who got low paying jobs—the numbers don’t jibe with their first hand knowledge.

They know the score now. But they didn’t know it when they first applied to law school. They bought into the numbers provided by law schools. The mission of these sites is to educate, to warn away, the incoming crop of prospective law students—to save them from becoming victims of the law school scam.

Wait a minute, we protest.

Law professors are not scammers. We advance the rule of law and justice. We promote efficient legal institutions. We develop legal knowledge and knowledge about law for the good of society. We are the conscience of the legal profession. Indeed, we made a financial sacrifice to become academics when we could have earned more money as practicing lawyers.

The students made their choices. They should have done more research. They should have thought more carefully about the consequences of taking on so much debt. It was their foolish over-optimism to think they would place among the top 10% of the class and land the scarce corporate law jobs. They should have known better. (If the numbers on our website are misleading it’s the Administration’s fault; and we don’t set the high tuition.) Don’t blame us.

It is their dream to become a lawyer—we provide them with the opportunity and what they make of it is up to them. Besides, a law degree is valuable even if you don’t get a job as a lawyer. It improves your reasoning ability. It opens all kinds of doors.

When annual tuition was $10,000 to $15,000, these rationalizations had enough truth, or at least plausibility, to hold up. When annual tuition reaches $30,000 to $40,0000, however, it begins to sound hollow. Students at many law schools are putting out a huge amount of money for meager opportunities.

What can we do? As a start, we can provide prospective students with straightforward information about the employment numbers of recent graduates. It is open knowledge that many law schools present employment information in a misleading fashion, or don’t disclose it at all. This lack of candor on the part of law schools is itself a telling indication that there is something problematic about the product we are selling to prospective students.

More crucially, law schools must shrink the number of graduates, and must hold the line on tuition increases. (The fact that many students get scholarships is no answer because it simply means that some students, those paying full fare—often the students with the worst prospects—are subsidizing others.) This will be painful: smaller raises (perhaps even salary reductions), smaller administrations, smaller faculties, more teaching, less money for research, travel, and conferences.

The longer law schools delay in undertaking these measures, the more casualties there will be. At some point, law professors can no longer disclaim responsibility for the harmful consequences of this enterprise. (These comments are not meant to point fingers at others—I too want to earn as much as I can, with lots of time for research, knowing that this is paid for by students.)

Professors at elite law schools might think this has nothing to do with them because their graduates are getting opportunities that justify the cost. In narrow terms this might be correct. But the current contraction of the legal market has spared no one (except law schools!), so their graduates are not immune. Their graduates too are burdened by massive debt.

Law school tuition has tripled in just 15 years. Annual tuition at Yale, Columbia, and Berkeley will likely top $50,000 by next year. Add $20,000 per year in living expenses, and the total cost of becoming a lawyer at these institutions will be $210,000. (That’s not counting the cost of an undergraduate degree.) Other law schools are not far behind (New York Law School projects an annual cost of $67,615).

The negative consequences for individuals and for society of the extraordinary price of entry to the legal profession will become more apparent over time. And it all happened under our watch.