TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, September 3, 2009

NY Times: Lock the Law School Doors

New York Times DealBook, Lock the Law School Doors, by Dan Slater:

[A]s job opportunities abate, law school matriculation rates rise unchecked. Each year, the number of students who enroll at one of 200 law schools approved by the ABA inches closer to 50,000. ...

This fall, as thousands of second-year law students wait in vain for callback interviews and ponder instructions to cast a wider net, they might wonder why, when they signed up for all of this, no one mentioned times were changing....

The ABA, which continues to approve law schools with impunity and with no end in sight, bears complicity in creating this mess. Yet a spokeswoman, citing antitrust concerns, says the ABA takes no position on the optimal number of lawyers or law schools. So then how about the schools? Can they save future generations of students from themselves?

If it means shrinking classes, don’t count on it. Limiting education is un-American, not to mention anticapitalist, even if many law schools appear to profit from what may charitably be called an inefficient distribution of market information. ...

the burden falls ultimately to aspiring legal eagles to reconsider motivations rather than borrow money on the expectation that they’ll make fat salaries, pay off debt in short order and win that express ticket to an upper-middle-class lifestyle. Because those days, grand as they might have been, are gone.

But will next year’s round of applicants heed the signals? Or, like Gatsby’s revelers, will they simply push on at an ever greater clip, boats against the current, toward that green light in the ivory tower and the promising future that, quite literally, recedes before them? After all, there will always be the possibility, however faint, of Big Law money and white-shoe prestige — ­ those powerful tonics for every new batch of wandering liberal arts graduates.

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Dan Slater "argues that there are too many places at too many law schools": As firms begin an industrywide overhaul, which has entailed slashing jobs and reconsidering hidebound inefficiencies like the lockstep salary, students will compete for half as... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 3, 2009 8:16:10 AM