[A] law school could literally burn a huge sum of money and, as long as the flames were meant to teach something to the students — the craziness of the U.S. News algorithm, perhaps? — the school would benefit in the rankings.
– New York Times journalist David Segal, responding to a reader’s question in relation to his series of articles about the economics of law schools. Segal’s latest article, For Law Schools, a Price to Play the A.B.A.’s Way (our coverage here), concluded the series.
(Additional excerpts from Segal’s responses, after the jump.)
The Times noted that its readers “had plenty to say” about Segal’s articles — as did our own readers — so the newspaper selected several questions, to which Segal responded in its Economix blog.
For example, here is an except from Segal’s take on antitrust concerns related to the American Bar Association’s regulation of law schools:
By anointing the A.B.A. as the regulator of law schools, the Department of Education put the organization in a bit of an awkward spot. It has been in the past, and always will be in the future, under the suspicion that it has, at minimum, the appearance of a conflict of interest. One could always wonder: Was this decision or that decision about limiting the number of lawyers made because of concerns for current members. And if so, is that fair?
In effect, the A.B.A. is the legal profession’s version of a union. And when you ask a union, “How many others should be allowed into your trade?” the answer is clouded — or again, appears to be clouded — by the interests of those already in the business.
Segal even has a solution to cull the effects of the yet to burst student loan debt bubble:
Another answer I’ve heard is to force schools to assume some of the risk of their graduates’ loans. Put some of their skin in the game. That might make them less willing to sign up students who are unlikely to find work.
These are just some of the highlights from Segal’s responses to reader questions. To read the full piece, click on the link below.
Answers to Reader Questions About Law School [Economix / New York Times]