Paul L. Caron

Friday, November 17, 2006

Should the State of Florida Subsidize UF's Graduate Tax Program?

My MoneyLaw colleague Jeff Harrison has an interesting post on what obligations law professors owe to their law school's stakeholders -- tuition payers, contributors, and citizens.  He then notes several things that would not serve the interests of these constituencies at Florida, including:

1. Operating an L.L.M progam in tax that is subsidized by citizens. Precisely what is the public good rationale here? Do you think there is any chance that many if any of these students are likely to be anxious to do public service work? Why not full-cost tuition for a program so obviously aimed at people who will internalize of the benefit of the State's investment in them?

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I see Mr. Harrison's point, and concede that market pricing for LLM degrees is a pretty compelling idea. But he may take too narrow a view of the "public good." Certainly better educated tax lawyers can better serve the public by more capably representing their clients and bringing greater clarity to the tax law.

If one accepts this critique, one might as well argue that paying taxes to finance public schools at all levels is an improper subsidy, since it's uncertain whether any student will go forth and do things with his/her education that serve the public interest.

Moreover, lawyers with LLMs by and large earn more than lawyers who lack them, and thus pay more taxes to finance all sorts of programs that promote the public good, not least state-supported law schools that offer LLM programs.

Posted by: Jake | Nov 17, 2006 2:46:50 PM