Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Paul L. Caron (Cincinnati), The Law School Crisis: What Would Jimmy McMillan Do?, 31 Pepperdine Law 14 (Fall 2012):
Several years ago, I co-wrote an article on applying the principles from Michael Lewis’s Moneyball book to legal education (What Law Schools Can Learn from Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics (82 Texas L. Rev. 1483 (2004)). The article asked what Billy Beane would do as the dean of a law school to capitalize on the inefficiencies in legal education.
Perhaps a better model for the crisis facing legal education today is Jimmy McMillan, who ran for New York Governor in 2010 with the slogan “the rent is too damn high.” Law school tuition is simply too damn high. Administrators and faculty need to ruthlessly examine law school budgets and cut areas that are not essential to the school’s mission. Law school is twice as expensive as it was twenty years ago (in inflation-adjusted dollars), yet no one would argue that legal education is twice as good today. ...
Our Moneyball article closed with these words:
Like Michael Lewis, we have told a story about a profession and people we love. We are proud of the work law schools and law professors do in teaching future lawyers and producing legal scholarship to the betterment of American law and society. As institutions and as individuals, we have nothing to fear from the accountability and transparency spotlight. Indeed, we do our best work in the light. We should welcome the opportunity to tell the world what we do and help them measure our performance as teachers and scholars. If we do not, the story will be told by others and it will no longer be our own.
Law schools need to take immediate action to confront today’s crisis. The current model – convincing 45,000 people each year to assume six-figure debt loads to chase 20,000 legal jobs (most of which do not pay enough to service the debt) – is simply unsustainable. Market and political forces are gathering steam. Law schools that embrace change will emerge stronger from the current storm.
For more, see A Law School Crisis Reader.