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Monday, December 3, 2012

NY Times Ethicist: The 'Morality' of Law Schools Enrolling Students at High Tuition Amidst Poor Placement Outcomes

New York Times Ethicist:  So Sue Me, by Chuck Klosterman:

I’m applying to law school. I’m sure there are many schools that could provide me with a decent education; I’m less confident that a degree from some institutions will get me a job. In fact, some schools, while charging outrageously high tuition, place fewer than half of their recent graduates in long-term, full-time legal positions. Is it moral for schools like these to keep enrolling students and collecting tuition dollars knowing that their product is a risky (or outright bad) investment? MATTHEW DREILING, NEW YORK  ...

If your query were simply “Is all college tuition in America unreasonably expensive?” my answer might be different. But your particular question is performance-based; you want to know if it’s unethical for colleges whose students are less successful in the job market to demand the same unreasonable tuition as the ones whose graduates perform well. And it’s not unethical — it’s just fiscally unfortunate. Obviously, the best thing any law school could do for its reputation is graduate people who become successful. These schools are motivated to do so; if they continually fail at that goal, they will not attract the best applicants, and the failure will perpetuate itself. But their principal ethical responsibility is to educate law students to the best of that institution’s ability, which isn’t inherently tied to how easily those graduates become gainfully employed. That responsibility is mostly yours.

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Comments

Nice to see someone at the NYT come out for individual responsibility...

Posted by: EMyrtle | Dec 4, 2012 3:50:08 PM

So, basically it's not unethical if "Everyone else is doing it" right?

I don't see how else to parse that.

If you 'promise' a product of value, and it routinely fails to produce that value, *and* you know that, I don't see how that is anything but unethical.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie | Dec 4, 2012 3:54:21 PM

An ethicist is someone trained in the art of justifying the obscene.

Take, for example, bio-ethicists - they think that eugenics is a great idea.

Press ethicists justify lying by the press.

Posted by: Andy Freeman | Dec 4, 2012 5:36:37 PM

"Obviously, the best thing any law school could do for its reputation is graduate people who become successful. These schools are motivated to do so; if they continually fail at that goal, they will not attract the best applicants, and the failure will perpetuate itself."

The best thing a law school can do for its reputation is game the US News Rankings. How much emphasis do these rankings place on job placement?

Posted by: John | Dec 4, 2012 11:41:10 PM