Raise your hand if you’re tired of the debate over the value of a legal education. Yeah, me too.
Well, sorry to disappoint you, but the debate rolls on. A prominent law school dean and one of his colleagues took to the pages of the New York Times to once again defend the law school ivory tower from its critics.
Who are we talking about, and what are their arguments?
* Let’s hit some lingering holiday stories that came in after we went off the air on Tuesday. Think of it as your Christmas hangover. First up, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, reimagined as a lesson on pregnancy discrimination. [Bolek Besser Glesius]
* Well, that’s one thing you can do with law reporters in the age of Westlaw and Lexis. [Legal Cheek]
* Isn’t it really nice of prosecutors when they actually try to fulfill their constitutional obligations? [Katz Justice]
* A life lesson for these thieves: there’s no such thing as a Christmas tree that doesn’t shed. [Legal Juice]
* The lawyers supposedly told NFL players they would not be taking any of the concussion settlement money. There’s a lesson to be had here about how you shouldn’t trust lawyers. [Overlawyered]
* Professor Nancy Leong went on Ashley Madison with a “white” profile and an “Asian” profile. The Asian profile got more hits. Is this interesting? Sure. Is this the sort of academic work worth charging law students $180K to support? Not so much. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]
Do you hear that sound? It’s the sound of the music stopping. It’s the sound of a tap running dry. Law schools are living in an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, and the party is wrapping up.
Professor Paul Campos estimates that 80 to 85 percent of law school are operating at a loss right now. Cratering law school applications put a stop on federally backed loan money that has been used to prop up outrageous law school tuition for years. In most industries, such realities would spur creative and substantive reform. Smart people would try to do something to fix the industry. Instead, people running law schools don’t think like that even when they have an opportunity for clarity.
As Fitzgerald writes: “arid for a moment people set down their glasses in country clubs and speak-easies and thought of their old best dreams. Maybe there was a way out by flying, maybe our restless blood could find frontiers in the illimitable air. But by that time we were all pretty well committed; and the Jazz Age continued; we would all have one more.”
Maybe all deans can do now is to play it out to the bitter end….
This is some quality dissembling. Dean William Treanor of Georgetown Law decided to enter the fray by responding to the New America Foundation report that I wrote about last week that claimed that Georgetown Law was using a loophole to use its public service debt repayment program to profit off the federal government. By way of recap, the school agrees to pay off the income-based payments of its students in the federal income-based repayment plan itself, then raises tuition for the next crop of students and uses that money to pay off their payments later, creating a big circle where tuition is artificially (if only marginally) inflated and taxpayers pick up the tab and the school pockets the profit.
Dean Treanor’s response attempts to deflect the criticism, but the article misses the entire point of the controversy.
As mentioned in Non-Sequiturs last week, this story is why we can’t have nice things. Specifically, why lawyers make it so we can’t have nice things.
On Friday, the Washington Post reported that Georgetown Law had worked out how to bilk the federal government into fully paying for some its students’ tuition and managed to create a profit for itself on the side. This is caused a bit of a stir Friday afternoon, but unfortunately the practice is neither new nor limited to Georgetown.
Though some tactics Georgetown employs may go beyond what any other school has the gall to attempt….
To accompany Noam Scheiber’s big article on Biglaw — which I discussed yesterday, and Anonymous Partner analyzed this morning — the New Republic asked six prominent observers of the legal profession (including yours truly) for their ideas on how to fix law school. For all of the blame that Biglaw gets for the profession’s problems, some of the difficulties can be traced back to the legal academy and how it teaches and trains lawyers (or fails to do so).
Let’s check out the various reform proposals. Which ones do you agree with?
Last night, Campos announced that he is going to stop writing his blog, Inside the Law School Scam. There are a number of so-called “scam blogs” by law school graduates that are devoted to exposing the high cost and low return of going to law school. But Campos is one of the few law school professors who has chosen to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
But after 499 posts, there wasn’t a lot more to say…
In Professor Paul Campos’s new book, Don’t Go To Law School (Unless) (affiliate link) — a book I’d recommend to anyone thinking seriously about law school — he shares an email from an individual who, after much research and thought, decides to enroll in law school. The email sheds some light on why people continue to sign up for law school despite all the warnings (from folks like Professor Campos, my colleague Elie Mystal, and many others). The law student writes:
[Prospective law students] think: debt doesn’t matter. There is no penalty for defaulting on the debt, except the relinquishment of the privileges of an advanced financial life. . . Students evaluating the horrible deal in question believe they have no access anyway to those privileges (e.g. a retirement account, a home purchase, a start-up business). For the student in question, all law school has to do is provide some potential benefit, and it becomes a rational choice.
After acknowledging that “[t]here’s a lot of force in this line of argument,” Professor Campos tries to refute it, basically arguing that many who go to law school based on such reasoning are “making a difficult situation worse.” But maybe the argument is not so easily refuted.
After all, what else are you going to do with yourself? Before you criticize law schools and those who matriculate at them, please familiarize yourself with the grim economic realities of twenty-first century America….
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