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Really Weak Arguments For Going To Law School: The Small Law School Edition

Law school is a good idea if you are incapable of doing basic math.

I feel like we could probably do a weekly feature entitled “It’s A Trap” that just focuses on which poor argument for going to law school somebody hopes 22-year-olds will fall for.

This week, we need to do a mash-up because all the stories about the dearth of law school applications have caused some deans to go out and say just the most ridiculous things online.

Just to make sure that a “counter-argument” comes up when uninformed prospective law students do Google searches for these schools, let’s take a whack at the latest, most absurd things to come out of a law school dean’s mouth, this time focusing on some smaller schools that not a lot of people have heard of….

Let’s start with Vermont Law School, which was mentioned in the New York Times article about falling applications because the school has laid off some staff. Being called out in the Times (even when the Times is late to the party) usually demands a response, and Vermont Law Dean Marc Mihaly threw one up online.

Look, I’m not going to criticize a dean for defending his school. Mihaly says that Vermont’s cuts are “voluntary” because the school wants to get smaller. I’m not going to quibble over the difference between wanting to get smaller and needing to get smaller. Whatever.

But later in his piece, Dean Mihaly makes the kind of unsupported claim that has no meaning, but seeks to entice prospective law students into making questionable financial decisions:

Finally, it’s important to remember that Vermont Law School is and always will be a different school. Let me close by sharing what I expressed on the occasion of my inauguration in October 2012 – that Vermont Law School is here for people who want to change the world.

Please, spare me. Spare us, spare your soon-to-be-bilked students this pointless rhetoric. The offices of Biglaw are packed to the the gills with people who went to law school to “change the world” until they realized that world-changing work doesn’t pay. Going to law school because you want to change the world is one of the worst possible reasons to go to law school, and a clear sign that you are a 1L who didn’t do your homework before applying to schools.

If Vermont really wants to breed lawyers who will change the world, they might want to consider NOT charging future lawyers of the world $45,207 PER YEAR to go to freaking school. Oh, but I guess while Vermont is happy to voluntarily kick low-earning staff members out onto the street, the administration has an involuntary revulsion to bringing tuition DOWN to within shouting distance of what this world-changing law degree is worth on the open market.

Honestly, if I see one more law dean offer his opinions about how to make law schools worthwhile without mentioning significant tuition reductions, I’m going to scream:

Four Ways to Fix Law School…

  • Create more partnerships with employers to transition recent law graduates into practice.
  • Establish academic programs to better prepare graduates for the workforce.
  • Educate students about the realities of law school before they apply.
  • Reflect the realities of an integrated global economic environment.


Sorry, that was Boston College Law Dean Vincent Rougeau writing earlier this week in U.S. News. This man managed to get a feature article in U.S. News talking about “fixing” laws schools and amazingly, magically almost, managed to not name the ridiculously high price of law school tuition as something worth fixing. That thing should have been titled “Four Ways to Stop Me From Raping You.”

Which brings us to the pure, unadulterated drivel that appears on the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law J.D. Admissions page. I get accused of making ad hominem attacks a lot, so I want to be clear: while I’m sure the people at Denver are perfectly nice and have intellectual faculties just like the rest of us, the arguments made in their article “Why Now is the Time to Apply to Denver Law” are some of the stupidest things ever put to page….

(hidden for your protection)

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