Just this morning, we distinguished between a recent graduate who is suing her alma mater, and the general need for somebody to rein in law school tuition.
Today, the National Law Journal provides us with additional evidence that law school administrators are totally detached from the economic realities facing law school graduates:
Double-digit tuition increases loom for students at some of the country’s top public law schools.
School administrators say that the unusually large tuition hikes for the coming academic year are largely spurred by cuts in public funding — with endowment losses, initiatives to improve their schools and pressure to keep up with competing institutions also playing a part.
Are these law school administrators suffering from a dissociative psychotic breakdown? Jobs are being lost, salaries are being cut — yet law schools are raising tuition by double digits? This sounds like the kind of crap Louis XVI used to pull.
After the jump, we go searching for Robespierre.
For those who ask why is this a problem for the government, let us not forget that right now that it is “the government” that is putting the screws to would-be law students:
The recession is having a “much more pervasive effect” on law school budgets than did past recessions, said Susan Westerberg Prager, executive director of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). Specifically, it’s hitting hardest at law schools dependent on state appropriations or revenue from endowments.
Administrators planning substantial tuition increases note that they are putting some of that additional revenue toward financial aid. Even so, the tuition increases are bound to heighten the financial burdens of public law school students, who already graduate with an average of $71,436 in law school debt, according to the latest available statistics from the American Bar Association.
Just Saturday, President Obama asked lawyers to renew their commitment to pro bono work and public service.
You want lawyers to do more for public service? Why don’t you consider doing something to stop making lawyers indentured servants to their debts? Asking lawyers to spend more time doing low income work at the same time that they’re paying more than ever to go to law school is hypocritical and insulting.
It’s worth noting that not all of the public law schools are engaged in this money grab on the backs of students who won’t be able to afford to pay off their debts over the course of a natural lifetime:
Not every top public law school is significantly raising tuition rates this year. The University of Michigan Law School and the University of Virginia School of Law are raising tuition for their students by 4% and 5%, respectively. Unlike most other public law schools, however, Michigan and Virginia largely follow the private school funding model — with heavy reliance on tuition, endowments and donations.
If the best that prospective law students can hope for is only a 5% tuition increase at the same time the legal market is in a period of deflation, then it doesn’t look like tuition will be coming down anytime soon. Apparently, the cost of obtaining a J.D. is now completely disassociated from the market value of a J.D.
Which begs the question, what in the name of all that is holy are people in the class of 2012 or prospective students looking to join the class of 2013 thinking?
Right now, law school is the becoming something that only makes sense for the independently wealthy. If your parents can pay for your legal education, by all means go right ahead. Enjoy yourself!
But if you are planning on using debt to finance your legal education, you might want to save yourself some time and just put your head in the guillotine right now. The quick chop will be painless compared to the tortuous years you’ll otherwise spend trying to get out from under a mountain of bills while working as a contract attorney.
At public law schools, tuition jumps sharply [National Law Journal]
President Barack Obama Challenges ABA Members to Renew Their Commitment to Service [ABA]