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
For more, see A Law School Crisis Reader.