If you talk to legal educators for long enough, you might start to think that they are trying their best. You might start to think that there is no other way they can approach the training of lawyers. You might even start to think that they are more concerned with education then with bilking law students for all they’re worth.
Don’t believe it. Law schools are involved in a straight cash grab, and it turns out the we only need to look towards our nation’s medical schools to see how things look when schools are more concerned with the profession than profits.
It turns out that a very prestigious medical school is looking to trim a year off of the education — because doing so will reduce student debt and encourage young doctors to go into underserved fields….
The New York Times has a great article about a new pilot program at NYU Medical School. The plan is to reduce the number of years it takes to go through med school from four years down to three:
Administrators at N.Y.U. say they can make the change without compromising quality, by eliminating redundancies in their science curriculum, getting students into clinical training more quickly and adding some extra class time in the summer.
Not only, they say, will those doctors be able to hang out their shingles to practice earlier, but they will save a quarter of the cost of medical school — $49,560 a year in tuition and fees at N.Y.U., and even more when room, board, books, supplies and other expenses are added in.
So, despite what you may have heard from your law dean, educators are capable of understanding that an extra year of school COSTS MORE MONEY. They are able to understand BASIC MATH.
Again, if you speak to legal educators as much as I do, the above knowledge might come as a revelation. Law deans have been trained to avoid the basic fact that the third year of law school explodes the cost of the education without conferring any real benefit.
For a case study in this, we just have to look at NYU! At their medical school, they’re experimenting with ways to streamline the education. But what are they doing with their highly respected law school? Remember, this fall, NYU Law basically admitted that the third year of law school was a gigantic waste of time. But did that lead them to a pilot program eliminating the third year? Of course not. Instead, NYU Law “revamped” their 3L curriculum to make it a glorified study abroad program where students nonetheless have to pay the full cost of another year of school.
Where was NYU’s commitment to helping students control their debt when it came to law students?
Of course, the key difference between law and medical school is how they’re regulated. Medical schools are regulated by the American Medical Association, which bothers to care about the future of health care in this country. Law schools are regulated by the American Bar Association, which cares about… ??? Honestly I have no idea what the organizing principle of the ABA is any more. I’m not sure who benefits by propping up an outdated system that is resistant to change that neither protects currently barred attorneys from a flood of young competition, yet makes it cripplingly expensive for that younger generation to become barred in the first place.
The ABA won’t let NYU take away a year of law school. But that doesn’t absolve NYU or any other law school from blame. Law deans could get together and change the ABA from the inside, for the benefit of their students. But law deans aren’t particularly interested in making things better for their students. Which is why nobody could ever write these two paragraphs about a collection of law school deans:
The deans say that getting students out the door more quickly will accomplish several goals. By speeding up production of physicians, they say, it could eventually dampen a looming doctor shortage, although the number of doctors would not increase unless the schools enrolled more students in the future.
The three-year program would also curtail student debt, which now averages $150,000 by graduation, and by doing so, persuade more students to go into shortage areas like pediatrics and internal medicine, rather than more lucrative specialties like dermatology.
Even this basic understanding of how the cost of education leads to what kinds of jobs recent graduates can take escapes most law school deans. Law school deans tell us that the debt is “worth it” without supplying any data on the true value proposition of going to law school. They tell us that a law degree is “versatile” without acknowledging that the cost of the degree severely limits options.
Maybe the people who go to medical school really are just more intelligent.