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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Should Law Schools Pay Students to Quit?

Following up on my prior post, Akhil Amar & Ian Ayres: Law Schools Should Pay Students to Quit: The Connecticut Law Tribune, Should Law Schools Tell Students to Go Away?:

Professors propose giving partial refund -- and the boot -- to struggling first-years.

"A half-tuition rebate splits the loss of an aborted legal career between the school and the student," writes law professors Akhil Reed Amar and Ian Ayres in an essay titled "Paying Students to Quit Law School." "Each has skin in the game, so students will not go to law school lightly, and law schools will have better incentives not to admit students likely to fail."

The professors suggest that at the end of a law student's first year, law school officials sit down with the student and assess his or her grades and future prospects in comparison to past students at that stage.

Brad Saxton, dean of Quinnipiac University School of Law, and Arthur Gaudio, dean of Western New England School of Law, declined interviews for this article. Jeremy Paul, dean of the University of Connecticut's School of Law, however, praised the cleverness of the proposal.

"We share a sense that law schools need to seriously confront issues facing current law school students, applicants and recent graduates," Amar told the Connecticut Law Tribune. "In particular, schools need to make sure that applicants and law students get reliable information about their financial prospects."

Paul, however, said rebates would be much more economically feasible for a school of Yale's stature than other schools. "For Yale, it's very economically feasible because almost nobody would do it."

On the flip side, schools whose graduates pass the bar exam at lower rates or who are not hired as frequently for high-paying jobs might take a bigger financial hit. "I want to counsel people very carefully," said Paul, "but I don't want to coax them into giving up."

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One thing is certain...Law schools should not be playing "moneyball" and they ought to be ashamed and liable for having done so, especially every school not currently ranked in the top 7.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 29, 2011 10:31:21 PM