Jim Chen

How do I know that these people are not lawyers?

Now that my wife and I have a baby, people keep telling us that we shouldn’t just find a bigger rental, we should buy something and put down roots. My wife, politely, laughs and says, “We’re thinking about it.” I angrily roll my eyes and say, “Why don’t you think about going and f**king yourself.”

You see, we are both law school graduates who debt-financed our educations and now live in New York. Property ownership is not something that will happen for us… unless we just want to give up and move to an oil-soaked subdivision in Arkansas.

But I am not alone. A law professor has crunched some quick numbers and determined that at least half of the class of 2011 wouldn’t be able to own a home….

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Jim Chen

Law students should take merit stipulations into account when they decide whether to accept an offer of admission paired with a conditional grant of financial aid. By all accounts, they do not. Law schools should transparently disclose the likely effect of merit stipulations on their financial aid awards. By all accounts, law schools do no such thing.

Jim Chen, former dean at the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law, opining on the merit scholarship racket in a new working paper.

(If you recall, Chen’s school recently over-promised financial aid to incoming students, which will result in a $2.4 million shortfall over three years.)

It finally looks like the out-of-control cost of legal education came back to bite a law school in the behind.

A scandal is erupting at the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. The law school reportedly made more financial aid commitments than the school had a budget for. Brandeis blew their financial aid budget by more than 100%. That is, they promised more than double the money the school had budgeted.

Louisville Law’s assistant dean of admissions, Brandon Hamilton, has resigned. It appears that Hamilton may have been offering more money to students who had not yet decided on an Louisville in order to entice them to matriculate.

Maybe if Louisville had done more to contain tuition costs it wouldn’t have felt pressured to throw so much financial aid money at students to make their education cost effective?

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A few years ago, at a conference hosted by Penn APALSA, I had the pleasure of meeting Dean Jim Chen of the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law. He gave a luncheon keynote address that was deeply thoughtful and inspiring. Attendees of the conference were quite impressed.

Students and staff at U of L have also praised Dean Chen. And he does have achievements to crow about (besides, of course, his glittering résumé and impressive record of scholarship). In the most recent U.S. News law school rankings, the Brandeis School of Law climbed 11 spots (from 100 to 89).

When law schools fall in the rankings, their deans often follow. But U of L fared well in the latest rankings. So why is Dean Chen departing?

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We mentioned this in yesterday’s Morning Docket, but I think it deserves a full post. For a long time, I have been questioning the value proposition of going to law school. Finally, it seems that somebody who can operate a calculator has my back.

The National Law Journal reports that Jim Chen, Dean of the Louisville School of Law, has come up with an easy-to-apply salary figure to determine whether law school was a financially sound decision on a case-by-case basis.

If you want to go to law school and one day be able to own a home, Chen argues you need to have a salary that is three times your law school’s annual tuition. You need to earn six times your annual tuition if you want to be a truly financially sound home owner if you are carrying three years of law school debt with you.

I’d like for people who constantly defend the value of law school to start pointing out the high-salaried jobs that are needed to make law school worth it….

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