Michael H. Schill

Reasonable minds can disagree on how to reform law school, but here’s one thing that almost everyone can agree upon: the tuition is too darn high. In an ideal world, legal education would be much more affordable. Not everyone has wealthy parents who insist on paying for college and graduate school.

Alas, we’re probably not going to see major change on that front anytime soon. As long as the federal government keeps the loan money flowing, law schools have little incentive to lower tuition.

So, at least for now, we’ll have to settle for more modest measures at controlling cost. For example, law schools can and should devote greater resources to scholarships, which lower the effective price tag of a J.D. degree.

One leading law school just received a gigantic gift — which it’s putting towards scholarships, to its credit. Which law school is on the receiving end of this largesse, and how much is it getting?

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In the latest U.S. News law school rankings, which just came out, Columbia Law School and the University of Chicago Law School maintained their respective spots of #4 and #5. This is the third year in a row that both schools have held steady, as you can see from the historical rankings data at Top Law Schools. (Back in 2009, Columbia was #4 and Chicago was #6, with NYU at #5.)

The schools in the so-called “CCN” band — Columbia, Chicago, and NYU — do battle with one another on several fronts. They compete for admitted students, especially ones with high LSATs and GPAs. They compete in job placement, in terms of getting their grads jobs with top law firms or coveted judicial clerkships.

And they compete with each other for attracting star faculty. The University of Chicago just hired away one of Columbia’s top young law professors — a legal academic who has appeared before in these pages….

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