Law Schools, Rankings

In Defense of Law School — Namely, Touro and Other Fourth-Tier Schools

Last week, I wrote a post about Touro Law School. The post highlighted allegations of wrongdoing at Touro College. In light of these allegations, and after talking about Touro Law’s reputation with a St. John’s law student I know, I suggested that the ABA might want to take a closer look a Touro Law — a fourth-tier law school that charges students $40,000 a year. Read the original post here.

Students at Touro and other fourth-tier law schools quickly came out of the woodwork. I see myself as a clear voice against the exploitation of these people by institutions charging them way too much. But they see me as an elitist who places institutional prestige ahead of quality education.

In my youth, I knew a lot of Touro Law graduates — I grew up on Long Island, and there are a lot of them out there. But it occurs to me that as an adult (and especially since I started working for Above the Law almost two and half years ago), I’ve had very little opportunity to interact with Touro students or grads, or people from other fourth-tier institutions. Our top-tier readers are often the most vocal, and ATL has put me in contact with scores of law students and alumni from second- and third-tier schools. The fourth tier, not so much.

With that in mind, one Touro Law student took the time to write an epic defense of Touro and fourth-tier legal education more generally. I don’t agree with a lot of it, but here at ATL, we do like to hear and present different sides of important arguments.

Everybody has heard my position on this matter (“the tuition is too damn high”), so let’s take a look at the other side — straight from the mouth of a student actually enrolled at Touro…

This Touro student responded to me directly and asked that his defense of the school be published on Above the Law. We generally do not run guest counterpoints here at ATL — that’s what the comments section is for — but given the harshness of the original post, we believe it appropriate to grant a right of reply in this specific case.

I do want fourth-tier students and alumni to know that their voices aren’t being ignored at Above the Law. And for the record, I don’t have a problem with fourth-tier law students; I have a problem with fourth-tier law schools who are selling limited high-end job prospects at elite educational prices.

Read the defense in full, below.

I am a Touro Law Student and I am proud to be a part of that institution. The professors and administration at Touro are not only highly qualified, but they actually care about their students. Also, the sense of camaraderie among the students is something that students at other law schools should consider emulating.

Is Touro the best law school? Well, it is in Suffolk County, NY . You see? I have a sense of humor about Touro Law School too and can poke fun at myself – everyone regardless of what they do or where they go to school should do that. However, what I refuse to do and what other people outside the Touro community fail to do is recognize that one gets out of any education only what they put into it. For example, I started out in Suffolk County Community College (aka 13th Grade, Scruffolk, High School with Ashtrays) but I worked damn hard and graduated. After graduating with my A.A., I went on to earn my B.A., then an M.A.. Today I am working on a J.D. Take from that what you will.

Here are some questions that I would like to pose to Mr. Mystal:

1. You and other bloggers have implied that Touro Law sells degrees. Not only is that a patently unfounded suggestion, but one who lives in a glass house should not throw stones. True, Touro College had some of this going on, but it was swiftly taken care of. Furthermore, this never occurred in Touro Law School. Now, let’s consider the Ivy League. Anyone with an inkling of the inner-workings of the Ivy League would know that almost nobody fails out. Many should be familiar with the Ivy League’s “Gentleman’s C” for example. So, if there are any schools that “sell” degrees, one could argue that the Ivy League is the worst offender since one only has to pay the tuition to get the degree.

2. You and just about everyone else on this blog and in the legal community at large seem to give a lot of weight to the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking system. Well, you don’t like Fourth Tier schools – that is readily apparent. So why on earth do you value the judgement of a Fourth Tier Magazine such as U.S. News & World Report? When was the last time you or anyone else has even seen someone buying or reading that magazine?

Mr. Mystal, you certainly have a right to say whatever you want about Touro Law School or any other school for that matter. However, when your comments are unfounded, people will start to wonder what your motivations are. Listen, you went to Harvard Law School and that is awesome. I would imagine that you are very intelligent and hardworking. I don’t think it was fair of others to say that you got into the school because of your race, etc. I don’t know you personally and I will go out on a limb and assume most of the people on this blog don’t either.

With that being said, instead of making negative and largely unfounded comments about Touro Law School, why don’t you consider adding something constructive to the dialogue? I don’t know how you can do this exactly, but you can figure it out as you went to Harvard! I don’t buy your argument that you are doing people a favor about “warning” them about the cons of going to law schools, particularly ones that are lower ranked. People that go to law school are smart enough and should do their due diligence when going into the legal field. Times are tough, no one will dispute that. However, these smart people that are going to law school should smarten up and come to terms with reality. And do you know what the reality is? 1. Do well in law school 2. Pass the bar 3. Network 4. Have realistic expectations 5. Don’t be too proud to start at something beneath your ideal 6. Always maintain a positive attitude 7. Be patient

Now, here is something for current students to remember.

What current law students don’t know and what many in the legal field don’t want them to learn is that:

1. The field of law is constantly growing. While certain areas shrink or almost completely fold from time-to-time, there are always emerging areas. Just look at how bankruptcy and elder law are growing and how real estate law isn’t so great (for now at least).

2. People always are going to need lawyers, thus there will always be a demand despite what the state of the economy may be. The law profession is actually “recession proof”.

3. Many lawyers fear increased competition, so they have a direct interest in discouraging people from entering the field. Law services are a product in a sense. The same reason you don’t see Microsoft encouraging competition is the same reason why lawyers don’t – more money can be made when there is less competition.

4. There may actually be a shortage of lawyers in the future, particularly in certain fields and in certain localities. Things like “brain drain” create opportunities for those with skills and an education who stay in such a drained area. Also, why do we forget the coming retirement of the baby-boomers? That actually relates partially to what has been referred to above (more elder law work) and the fact that there are thousands upon thousands of baby-boomer lawyers who will be out of the field in the next 5-10 years.

What does all this mean?

It means that if you go to an ABA accredited school, whether it is Harvard Law or Touro Law, you will likely have great career opportunities in the very near future. As long as you want it, work hard, remain flexible and realistic. If I have not made a solid enough case that is capable of motivating even the students of Fourth Tier schools, I highly recommend reading the works of Norman Vincent People, particularly The Power of Positive Thinking.

Mr. Mystal, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak about Touro Law and also about the very positive things to come in the legal profession’s future.

And finally:

Can’t we all just get along?

— Greg at Touro Law

Earlier: Turns Out Touro Is Even Crappier More Troubled Than We Thought
In Defense of Going to Law School

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