Does somebody have to die? Does somebody have to commit suicide? Does somebody have to leave a suicide note that reads, “I just couldn’t go on paying off the debts I incurred from going to this law school”? What is it going to take before somebody, some organization, some kind of regulatory authority steps in and prevents universities from opening up debt-generation shops under the guise of providing legal education?
There have been some recent successes in the fight to get people to think before they open a new law school. Plans to further saturate the legal market with expensive J.D.s have been tabled in North Texas and Delaware.
But this is a game of whack-a-mole that can’t be won without regulatory control. The Indiana Institute of Technology is going forward with its law school plan, because nobody will stop them….
I’ll start where we have to start when discussing a possible new law school. TaxProf Blog reports that tuition will be $28,500 at Indiana Tech Law. That’s $85,500 over three years. You could go to the well-established law school at Indiana University – Bloomington, a top 25 law school, for less money (assuming you’re in state).
Now, why do Hoosiers need the opportunity to spend over $85K at Indiana Tech Law? Here’s the logic (and I use that word loosely), as reported by the National Law Journal:
“We have given this decision careful research and consideration, and we believe we can develop a school that will attract and retain talented individuals who will contribute to our region’s economic development,” said Indiana Tech President Arthur Snyder….
Should Indiana Tech add a law school as planned, it would be the fifth law school in Indiana and the seventh within a three-hour drive of Fort Wayne….
Still, lack of access to legal education is one reason Indiana Tech is moving forward with its plans, Snyder said, noting that about half of Indiana residents attending ABA-approved law schools are doing so out of state.
“There are potential students who desire a law school education who cannot get that education in this area, and there are people in our state who need legal services who don’t have access to them,” he said.
Who? Who needs access to legal education and cannot currently get any within three hours of Fort Wayne who has any business going to law school? I’m serious — couldn’t the state make universities identify one actual student who would benefit from having a new law school? We could call it the Joe Blow rule: new law schools need to identify one Joe Blow who will testify under oath that he is a credible law school candidate who was nonetheless denied legal education.
Sorry, I know that’s not a great rule, but I’m trying to illustrate that a guy could win three straight games of asshole and come up with a better rule regarding new law schools than what the ABA is rolling with.
In any event, they’re not even impressed with this plan in Indiana. From the Indianapolis Star:
At least one older graduate is not as happy.
“There are already too many lawyers,” said Tom Faulkner, 67, who received his degree in electrical engineering in 1966 and now lives and works in North Carolina.
“I am truly sorry to see Tech move away from science and engineering. (The institution) now operates like a McDonald’s with a branch in every village and has been steadily diluting its heritage with degree programs in whatever the fad of the month is.”
That’s right, the McDonald’s of law schools. For the low, low price of $85K.
But that’s not my favorite quote. My favorite line is this one from the NLJ:
Additionally, the law school could be the first to offer a joint juris doctor and master of science degree in leadership, since the university already has several programs in leadership, [Snyder] said.
Leadership is something that Indiana Tech President Arthur Snyder doesn’t seem to know much about. You’re not supposed to lead prospective students to financial ruin just because they’re stupid enough to follow you.
Indiana Tech to Open New Law School in Fort Wayne in Fall 2013 [Tax Prof Blog]
Indiana Tech launching law school [National Law Journal]
Indiana Tech plans state’s 5th law school [Indianapolis Star]