TaxProf Blog

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

Sunday, November 8, 2009

U.S. News: GAO Wrong to Blame Us For Rising Law School Tuition

Robert Morse, Director of Data Research at U.S. News & World Report, follows up on my prior post, GAO: U.S. News Rankings, Not Accreditation, Key Driver of Law School Tuition, in Who's at Fault for the High Cost of Law School?:

There are weaknesses in the report's methodology. The GAO primarily relied on the views of a very small number of law school academic insiders and the ABA. The law school academic community should have taken more direct responsibility for its own administrative actions that boost tuitions. Many legal educators believe that the ABA's accreditation process, which has numerous standards for faculty and school facilities, plays a far more significant role in adding to the rising cost of legal education than GAO gives it credit for.

The GAO did not mention another factor that is increasing tuitions: Many law schools are viewed as "cash cows" at universities. The central administration of each university gives a portion of a law school's tuition dollars to other parts of campus, and the law school has to run the school on less than the full amount the students paid.

The GAO also did not point out that law is a very popular, high-demand profession with high starting salaries. That has meant that law schools have had little resistance when they raised tuitions.

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