More On Law School as a Bad Investment

Here are some posts and articles that shed more light on the problem of law schools producing more graduates than available lawyer jobs and the current state of legal education.

Is American legal education economically viable and socially defensible? Can most US law schools expect to go from strength to strength? Or is university legal education, especially on non-elite campuses, more like the American motor industry before the fall? Are institutional complacency and greed liable to kill off a good thing?  Legal education, like higher education generally in the United States, has become sharply more expensive in the past three decades. Tuition can approach or even exceed $40,000 per year; many law students take on substantial loans; and it is common to graduate with debt of $100,000 and more.

While law school tuition has risen at twice the rate of inflation and more in recent decades, senior faculty teach less than ever – three courses a year is the norm at many law schools – and senior faculty salaries have risen far ahead of the inflation rate. . . .Today’s model of legal education – now the norm at most US law schools – might continue to be viable economically at elite law schools. The question is whether it can persist at middle and lesser-ranked law schools, and whether it should. There are apt to be pressures for substantial reform of American legal education in the foreseeable future – whether through legislation, antitrust litigation, or simply by market forces. Depending on the direction that reform might take, the benefits as well as the costs of today’s academic model might be lost. It would not be the first time that monopoly or greed have led to a breakdown and to the development of new and at least in some ways worse institutions.

  • Shame” by Professor Paul Campos of the University of Colorado Law School whose abstract states:

Here are some observations drawn from nearly seventeen years spent as a legal academic, using a particular device: the depiction of several fictional yet all-too-familiar legal academic characters. With one exception these characters are imaginary – yet their name is legion. The characters are The Drone, The Bully, The Hack, and The Fraud.  What can be done about them – or about us? Answering this question at all satisfactorily requires confronting more than the personal flaws of particular individuals: it necessitates grappling with the structural failures of the contemporary law school. It’s true that some of what is wrong with legal education is no different than what’s wrong with higher education in general. But in legal academia, the especially problematic relationship between the requirements of professional training and of pursuing knowledge create special problems for the integrity of the discipline.  All the “characters” I describe – and the institutional structures that make them possible – pose serious ethical and economic problems for the contemporary law school. They undermine intellectual standards and interfere with professional training. As to solutions, a first step would surely involve legal academics facing up to various uncomfortable truths about the way we live now.

2017-06-02T21:13:09+00:00

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