Student Loans

There’s been a lot of buzz coming out of Notre Dame Law. No, the students are not being being pressed into service to defend the university from Declan Sullivan lawsuits. Instead, ND Law dean Nell Newton held a town hall meeting with the students to discuss the future of the university.

After the public meeting, Dean Newton met with some students, and they got into a discussion about the future of tuition at the law school. Depending on whom you talk to (and we’ve now talked to a bunch of people), Dean Newton suggested during this private meeting that there would be either (1) a significant, “dear God, what are you doing” tuition increase at the private law school, or (2) a modest tuition hike. We’ll let you decide whom to believe.

But one thing is for sure: tuition is going up. Notre Dame will not be holding the line with tuition, so current and prospective law students should be prepared to pay more, despite the weakness in the legal economy…

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CORRECTION: This post has been revised since it was first published to reflect the fact that the 13.5% tuition hike for in-state students occurred this summer and applies to the current academic year (2010-2011).

Last year, the University of Minnesota contemplated imposing a significant tuition hike on its law students, while trying to keep college tuition low. This year, Minnesota did in fact push through the tuition increase, while protecting the high salaries of its law school faculty.

Paul Caron at Tax Prof Blog pointed us to a number of reports about how Minnesota hiked law school tuition by 13.5% for this academic year, while planning to cut faculty salaries by only 1.15% in the 2011 fiscal year. So Minnesota law students, if you were hoping for a dollop of Astroglide along with your next tuition bill, you have my sympathy. The administration at Minnesota Law doesn’t even have the common courtesy to give you a reach-around.

Law school administrators don’t care about you, current and prospective law students. They don’t even have to pretend to care about your problems anymore…

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A prudential perspective, because it appeared in Slate’s advice column, Dear Prudence (alongside an inquiry from a woman dating a wonderful man who unfortunately has a “micropenis”):

Dear Prudence,

I am just a little over a year away from becoming a lawyer, and I’m miserable because I hate it. I wasn’t forced into the profession. I just mistakenly believed that since I loved to read and debate, law was the natural progression. But I don’t like law, and I’m not applying myself to it wholeheartedly. I can’t imagine being in this field for the rest of my life or even a few years. My parents have sacrificed and spent so much on my education, and I have no idea how to tell them that I made a mistake. Worse, my mom thinks this is my dream, and I don’t have the heart to tell her that it isn’t. The only thing that really brings me joy is escaping into books that have nothing to do with law. Please help me.

—Inadmissible

So what did Prudence say to “Inadmissible”?

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A couple of weeks ago, we reported on the public interest stipend Georgetown Law offered its recent graduates. Georgetown University Law Center gave a three month stipend of $4,000 to its recent graduates who are working for a public interest organization.

Today, we have news that GULC is extending the fellowship for an additional three months. That’s great news for GULC grads. But it’s terrible news for administrators at UCLA Law and UT Law, two schools which are hoping to knock Georgetown out of its vaunted #14 spot in next year’s U.S. News Law School Rankings. Consider GULC’s employment stats sufficiently juked.

Potentially, it’s also terrible news for part-time night students attending Georgetown. This money has to come from somewhere, and right now it looks like part-time students are helping Georgetown cover the budget…

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When the UC Irvine School of Law first burst onto the scene, the school offered free tuition to everyone in its inaugural class. Then, in its second year, UC Irvine offered a 50% discount to all students admitted to the class of 2013.

And now, UC Irvine will knock 33% off its tuition, for members of its third entering class (the class of 2014).

Students considering UC Irvine will certainly appreciate the money. The National Law Journal reports that, not counting the discount, in-state tuition is $40,000 a year and out-of-state tuition is $50,000 a year. Welcome to public law school in the 21st century.

Despite being a public law school, UC Irvine will fund this tuition reduction through private donations. So you have to wonder: how long can they keep that up?

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I just bought 4 bottles of wine in sweats at 530 on a monday night. F**k law school.

– a poster at Texts From Last Night

So you want to go to law school....

It has been a while since we’ve had one of these cut-rate animation movies discouraging people from going to law school. There have been some great ones in the past: A Law School Carol springs to mind, as well as Don’t Go To Law School.

There was a time when I thought little video clips like the two above would actually help someone. I thought that if people won’t listen to the shrill voices of people like me, they might take advice from Lego-lookalikes speaking in a dull monotone.

But those were the heady days of 2009, when the craptastic state of the legal economy finally started to seep into the consciousness of prospective law students and lawyers. Now, thanks to the Great Recession, there’s less of a need to educate prospective law students about what they’re getting themselves into. Now, these little videos aren’t important teachable moments, they’re simply fun opportunities to make fun of people who fail to look out for themselves. They are opportunities for those who have been through the law school wringer to sit back and enjoy themselves — and exchange knowing glances among fellow colleagues.

The one we just came across today hits exactly the right note…

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A third-year student at Boston College Law School made a very reasonable request of the law school’s interim dean, George D. Brown: Give me my money back.

I say it’s a reasonable request, because it is customary in this country to get a refund when you buy something that is defective in some fundamental way. And the people who won’t give you a refund are usually scam artists or a**holes.

Dean George Brown doesn’t want to pull a Mel Gibson, does he?

Well, the Boston College 3L isn’t sure that Dean Brown will do the right thing. So the student wrote an impassioned open letter to the dean, which was published by EagleiOnline

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Earlier this week, a story in the National Law Journal (subscription) reported that the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is weaning itself off of public funding and trying to become self-sufficient on private dollars. Towards that end, ASU will be raising tuition and admitting more law students.

I wanted to wait until I calmed down before I posted on it, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. So I broke into the Bronx Zoo this morning and stole some elephant tranquilizers. I’m going to shoot up and finish this post, now.

[Mmm... serenity...]

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A year ago (almost to the day), we learned that Belmont University in Nashville was planning to start a new law school. At the time, I asked: “[H]ow colossally dumb are the people who sign up for a Belmont law degree next year?”

Well, there’s an article in the Tennessean today suggesting that the new dean of Belmont College of Law, Jeff Kinsler, is hoping his new students are so incapable of doing basic research than they’ll be easily distracted by anything that even smells of “math” or “statistics.”

And apparently his faith has been rewarded. With 1,200 inquiries from prospective students, it seems that Belmont is well on its way to handing out potentially useless degrees.

But what’s going on at Belmont is so ridiculous that it has even attracted the attention of the American Bar Association. You read that right. Even the ABA is saying “wait a minute” to students eager to sign up for whatever Belmont is offering….

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