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Quote of the Day: The Broken Economics of Legal Education

Brian Tamanaha

The average debt of law graduates tops $100,000, and most new lawyers do not earn salaries sufficient to make the monthly payments on this debt. More than one-third of law graduates in recent years have failed to obtain lawyer jobs. Thousands of new law graduates will enter a government-sponsored debt relief program, and many will never fully pay off their law school debt.

Washington University Law professor Brian Tamanaha, author of Failing Law Schools (affiliate link), painting a rosy picture of what life is like for recent law school graduates.

(What can be done to remedy this situation? Additional insights from Professor Tamanaha, after the jump.)

In his New York Times op-ed piece, Tamanaha blames ABA-imposed accreditation standards and the federal loan system for breaking the economics of legal education, and he calls for reform of both.

What could happen if it all stays the same? More from Professor Tamanaha:

If we don’t change the economics of legal education, not only will law schools continue to graduate streams of economic casualties each year, but we will also be erecting an enormous barrier to access to the legal profession….

Professor Tamanaha recently appeared on an episode of InstaVision with Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit to discuss whether law school was still worth the investment. During the segment, the pair spoke in greater detail about the problems with law school economics, including possible solutions, like capping the amount of federal loan money a law school could receive.

We also learn some pretty shocking tidbits about law school debt in general, like the total indebtedness for Cooley Law’s class of 2010 (approximately $91 million). Check out the video below for more information:

Will the law school bubble burst “faster and harder” than already expected? Brace for impact, because it might happen sooner than you think — and that’s pretty scary.

How to Make Law School Affordable [New York Times]
Breach of Contract: How Law Schools Are Failing to Make the Grade [InstaVision / YouTube]

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