As we mentioned in Morning Docket, one New York law school just decided to cut its yearly tuition by a whole lot — 15 percent, actually. That’s right: a top 100 law school is reducing its tuition, across the board, in a move that will take it from being the second-most expensive private law school in New York City to being the cheapest of its kind.

Of course, by “cheapest,” what we really mean is “still prohibitively expensive,” but at least it’s a step in the right direction. Perhaps this is a trend in the making for the rest of New York City’s law schools.

So, which law school is helping its students take on a little less debt?

It’s Brooklyn Law School, whose dean announced today that the school will be slashing its tuition by 15 percent. Here are the details from the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.):

Tuition at the school currently stands at $53,850—after the cut, set to go into effect for the 2015-2016 academic year, the tuition will be $45,850.

The change comes during a time of national concern about growing student debt and shrinking job prospects in the law profession.

“Cost is an issue on the minds of everyone who wants to be a lawyer,” said Brooklyn Law School Dean Nicholas Allard. “They’re terrified of taking on enormous debt…it’s a broken business model.”

This means that the total cost to attend Brooklyn Law, including tuition, fees, and expenses, will drop from $82,471 to $74,471 (or from $247,413 over three years of school down to $223,413 over the same time period). Will an almost $25K decrease make a difference when it comes to loan payments? It depends.

While the WSJ says that about 88 percent of Brooklyn Law grads from the class of 2013 are “employed,” we’ll go one step further to note that just 57.3 percent are employed in full-time, long-term positions as attorneys. About 65 of those recent graduates are employed in mid-size to Biglaw firms.

Let’s pretend the classes receiving the benefits of this tuition cut have similar job prospects. It’s reasonable to assume the reduction would make a difference for students employed in high-paying jobs. For the rest, those who will struggle to pay off their loans for up to 25 years, it’s likely just a drop in the bucket.

But instead of focusing on the overall prices, the direction of the movement is what is important here:

[Mr. Allard] said the tuition cuts were enabled by a number of cost-saving measures, including a 15% cost-cutting goal among senior managers last year and a reduction of some staff salaries.

A spokesman for the school also cited donations and sales of real estate as factors.

Law school staff are giving up a piece of their pie to help law school graduates fare better in the real world. This is meaningful. This is commendable. This is “hopefully precedent setting news,” says one of our tipsters. We applaud Brooklyn Law for taking a giant leap forward in its attempt to lessen the brunt of the debt load its students will have to bear over their careers as lawyers. Dean Allard is correct in stating that law school, as it stands, is a “broken business model” — at least he’s trying to fix it.

While we agree with our tipster that it would be nice for other law schools in the area to follow suit, what would be even nicer is if New York City law schools reduced tuition to make it realistically affordable for all, not just affordable for those willing to bet their financial futures on a law degree.

Brooklyn Law Cuts Tuition [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]


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