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Friday, August 24, 2012

Chemerinsky Dismisses Tamanaha's Call for High-Quality, $20,000 Per Year Law Schools

Following up on last month's post, Chemerinsky: You Get What You Pay for in Legal Education:  ABA Journal: Law Prof’s Ideal, Affordable Law School Not Possible in Reality, Chemerinsky Says:

“If you are not going to law school ... what is your alternative path?” asks Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law. “And in purely economic terms, is it better than law school? ... It’s not just monetary ... There are all sorts of exciting things you can do with a law degree.”

Asked about his own economic terms, the highly paid constitutional scholar says, “I wouldn’t have come at half the price. No one is going to take a 50% pay cut, no matter how beautiful Orange County is, and no matter how wonderful it is to be part of a new school.”

The two quotes may seem at odds—the ideal of a career bringing more than financial gain, the reality of getting the paycheck now. But they represent the two thorny sides of the debate of law school and its value.

One can hardly blame Chemerinsky for protecting his own. He had a posh teaching gig at Duke University School of Law and a family with four children to support. Still, his blunt statement represents the stark reality to the idealistic aims of law professor Brian Z. Tamanaha, author of Failing Law Schools, which calls for an innovative, top-quality, public-service-minded and affordable (i,.e. less than $20,000 a year) institution as the ideal 21st-century law school.

Tamanaha chastised Chemerinsky for failing to sell a vision of affordable excellence. Chemerinsky challenges Tamanaha’s budget skills. “I don’t know a way in which we possibly could have done what we are doing at the kind of amount [he] was discussing,” Chemerinsky said in an ABA Journal interview in response to a National Law Journal op-ed on the issue. ...

As for the possibility of less expensive legal training, what Tamanaha calls for as a new paradigm, Chemerinsky sees as low cost law schools with “a lot of students, small faculty, a lot of adjuncts ... Not a law school I want to be associated with. [Tamanaha] looks at the value of a law degree in too much of monetary concerns,” Chemerinsky told me. But it’s the monetary concerns that concern me, observers of the law school bubble and the young people considering entry into the legal profession.

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Comments

of course they would take a pay decrease.. all you have to do is abolish goverment guaranteed student loands and tutions would collapse over night..

Posted by: mike | Aug 24, 2012 4:40:01 PM

Chemerinsky states: "It’s not just monetary ... There are all sorts of exciting things you can do with a law degree.”

Current and prospective law students doubtless are heartened by such sage advice from one who has already feathered his legal nest with a lucrative deanship. Chemerinsky must be deaf to irony.

Posted by: Jake | Aug 24, 2012 4:59:56 PM

I love Dean Chemerinsky. He has great big balls of steel, and a great legal and business mind to match.

He doesn't pander to students. He gives it to them straight. You want quality? You need to pay for it. You want to pay less? You'll get lower quality.

Posted by: Anon | Aug 24, 2012 8:14:41 PM

Let Tamanaha, DJM, Campos et. al be the change they want to see in the world. Start their own law school staffed entirely with profs willing to work for nothing. Prove the concept can work.

It should provide great entertainment watching them try.

Posted by: Anon | Aug 24, 2012 8:18:39 PM

I don't think anyone will remember Tamanaha in twenty years.

Posted by: michael livingston | Aug 25, 2012 6:25:50 AM

If you can continue to sell your product to incoming students at a rising sticker price, despite everything people like Campos and Tamanaha are saying, why not continue?

By the way, non-HYS schools: how has that been going so far this year?

Posted by: Morse Code for J | Aug 25, 2012 10:03:27 AM

The truth lies somewhere between Tamanaha's views and Chemerinsky's. I think good law school professors deserve to be well-compensated. Quality isn't cheap. At the same time, UC Irvine did not need to create a law school, there are far too many law schools graduating too many lawyers, there are not all sorts of exciting things you can do with a law degree, and the lower-paid law jobs that are available are not viable options for students with $100,000+ in student loan debt.

Posted by: Doug Richmond | Aug 25, 2012 10:24:53 AM

"there are far too many law schools graduating too many lawyers"

Based on the high wages and low unemployment rates for law grads relative to B.A.s, it would seem the market is telling us there are too few lawyers;

"the lower-paid law jobs that are available are not viable options for students with $100,000+ in student loan debt."

Sure they are. It's called IBR (income based repayment). 10 years in public interest, debt payments capped at 10% of income, and in the end, all of your federal student loan debts are forgiven. Not too shabby.

Posted by: Anon | Aug 26, 2012 12:32:52 AM

Its funny, I never recalled many law professors doing any genuine "teaching" of their students? More obfuscation than anything else. Nice work if you can get it!

Posted by: Steve | Aug 27, 2012 11:55:46 AM

"Not too shabby"

Then why aren't the *schools* highlighting IBR to applicants, Anon?

Why rely upon law school whore-bots?

Because IBR utterly undercuts the high salary myth that the schools rely upon?

Posted by: cas127 | Aug 28, 2012 12:52:29 AM

IBR is there for those who want to go into public interest.

High salaries are there for those willing to work in the private sector--and work hard enough in law school to get those jobs.

Different strokes for different folks.

Schools do highlight IBR, as well as there own loan forgiveness programs, which may be more generous.

Posted by: Anon | Aug 31, 2012 7:54:08 AM

CAS127

Schools do highlight IBR and supplementary loan forgiveness to applicants, particularly those interested in public service rather than working in the private sector.

Here's Harvard's page on it's "Low Income Protection Plan":
http://www.law.harvard.edu/current/sfs/lipp/index.html

Here's Yale's "Loan Repayment Assistance Program":
http://www.law.yale.edu/admissions/COAP.htm

Here's a law school review site that walks through many schools plans:
http://www.top-law-schools.com/tls-guide-to-lrap.html

But please, keep jumping to incorrect conclusions before you do any research. It really helps your credibility!

Posted by: Anon | Aug 31, 2012 8:21:25 AM