Law Schools

How Much Is a Law School Worth?

Southern New England School of Law logo.jpgSouthern New England School of Law (which is not accredited by the American Bar Association) is trying to sell itself to the University of Massachusetts. The Boston Globe reports:

UMass President Jack Wilson received a letter last week from trustees chairwoman at the 235-student school offering to enter into discussions that could lead to the donation of its assets to UMass Dartmouth, higher education officials said today. Under the terms of the possible donation, UMass would receive cash assets and the campus that now houses the 235-student law school. The offer is valued at approximately $22.6 million.

This is situation is different from the issues we’ve explored regarding new law schools in Tennessee and Texas. First of all, Southern New England is not a new law school. It is already there, providing unaccredited degrees to needy New Englanders.
Also, the state of Massachusetts has zero public law schools. Not a single one. If we are going to add law schools despite the general oversupply of attorneys, it seems like getting a public law school in a state that doesn’t yet have one is a palatable idea.
Still, I hate the plan. Let me explain after the jump.

While Massachusetts might not have any public law schools, let’s not forget that there is a lot of legal education available in the state. Massachusetts sports: Suffolk Law School, New England School of Law, Northeastern, some schools in Boston, and … I’m forgetting one.
Arguably, the point of a public law school would be to make legal education more affordable for in-state residents. The Boston Globe remembers that the mere threat of UMass opening a public law school bothers the state’s lower tier, private schools:

The step to acquire the private law school in Dartmouth, which is not accredited by the American Bar Association, threatens to rekindle the bitter dispute of 2005. The most vocal opponents of the plan were two private Boston schools, Suffolk University Law School and New England School of Law. Both said at the time that the new school would cost taxpayers millions while burdening the state with more law schools than it needs.

That really is the problem isn’t it? UMass is talking about getting taxpayers to pay for more legal professionals in a market that already has too many. You could probably raise $22.6 million from practicing attorneys who want to kill the law school.
I understand the goal of providing a low cost legal education option for in-state residents. But while we are hearing what acquiring the Southern New England School of Law will cost UMass, we are not hearing what the law school will cost prospective students. It’s probably not going to be free.
I mean no offense by this, but isn’t the Southern New England School of Law not a very good law school? There’s a reason the school isn’t accredited, right? I just don’t see how raising the profile of bad law schools is the right way to go.
UMass revives push for a public law school [Boston Globe]
U Mass Mulls Possible Acquisition of Donated Private Law School [ABA Journal]
Earlier: Belmont (TN) To Open New Law School — Just Because They Can
More Law Schools + More Lawyers + Recession = FUBAR

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