TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Case Western Dean: Law School Is Worth the Money

New York Times op-ed:  Law School Is Worth the Money, by Lawrence W. Mitchell (Dean, Case Western):

I’m a law dean, and I’m proud. And I think it’s time to stop the nonsense. After two years of almost relentless attacks on law schools, a bit of perspective would be nice.

For at least two years, the popular press, bloggers and a few sensationalist law professors have turned American law schools into the new investment banks. We entice bright young students into our academic clutches. Succubus-like, when we’ve taken what we want from them, we return them to the mean and barren streets to fend for themselves.

The hysteria has masked some important realities and created an environment in which some of the brightest potential lawyers are, largely irrationally, forgoing the possibility of a rich, rewarding and, yes, profitable, career.

The starting point is the job market. It’s bad. It’s bad in many industries. “Bad,” in law, means that most students will have trouble finding a first job, especially at law firms. But a little historical perspective will reveal that the law job market has been bad — very bad — before. ... What else will these thousands of students who have been discouraged from attending law school do? ...

It’s true, and a problem, that tuition has increased. ... Debt, too, is a problem. The average student at a private law school graduates with $125,000 in debt. But the average lawyer’s annual salary exceeds that number. You’d consider a home mortgage at that ratio to be pretty sweet. Investment in tuition is for a lifelong career, not a first job. There are many ways to realize a satisfactory return on this investment. Even practicing law appears to have paid off over the long term.

The graying of baby-boom lawyers creates opportunities. As more senior lawyers retire, jobs will open, even in the unlikely case that the law business doesn’t expand with an improving economy. More opportunity will open to women and minorities, too. As with any industry in transition, changes in the delivery of legal services create opportunities as well as challenges. Creative, innovative and entrepreneurial lawyers will find ways to capitalize on this.

The overwrought atmosphere has created irrationalities that prevent talented students from realizing their ambitions. ... We could do things better, and every law school with which I’m familiar is looking to address its problems. In the meantime, the one-sided analysis is inflicting significant damage, not only on law schools but also on a society that may well soon find itself bereft of its best and brightest lawyers

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2012/11/case-western-dean-.html

Legal Education | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c4eab53ef017ee5bb8fc3970d

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Case Western Dean: Law School Is Worth the Money:

Comments

He says: "The average student at a private law school graduates with $125,000 in debt. But the average lawyer’s annual salary exceeds that number." He is beyond delusional. And my favorite part is that no one the graduates from his law school will be averaging that type of salary for a long time after graduation, if ever.

Posted by: Brian G. | Nov 29, 2012 7:24:24 PM

"And my favorite part is that no one the graduates from his law school will be averaging that type of salary for a long time after graduation, if ever."

They place 12% into larger firms. That by itself exceeds that number, not including the medium sized firms.

Posted by: Charles D. | Nov 29, 2012 11:05:58 PM

We have three Case-grad partners at my large law firm. Each of them make around $1.1 million/year. A small number, to be sure, but we are only one law firm, and not geographically close to Case.

Posted by: JB | Nov 30, 2012 9:15:55 AM

Perhaps most will never exceed that amount for a long time. The Dean's analysis was incredibly incomplete.

Posted by: HTA | Nov 30, 2012 10:01:39 AM