Tuesday, April 2, 2013
The legal education industry has hit a wall. The U.S. has an oversupply of attorneys. Law schools keep pumping out more. Graduates have huge debts and sparse job prospects.
“Law schools need to take immediate action to confront today’s crisis,” Paul Caron, a thoughtful and prolific professor at the University of Cincinnati, recently explained [The Law School Crisis: What Would Jimmy McMillan Do?]:
“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.”
Caron, who specializes in tax law and knows his figures, suggests that the legal professoriate look to Jimmy McMillan for guidance. When he ran for governor of New York in 2010, the eccentric McMillan drove around my Brooklyn neighborhood in a car with a loudspeaker on its roof, shouting his memorable campaign slogan: “The rent is TOO damn high.”
At more than $50,000 a year, “law school tuition is simply too damn high,” Caron argues. “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 20 years ago [in inflation-adjusted dollars], yet no one would argue that legal education is twice as good today.”