Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

ABA Forms Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education

Press Release, ABA Announces New Task Force on Financing of Legal Education:

ABA Logo 2ABA President James R. Silkenat today announced the formation of the ABA Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education.

The task force is charged with looking at the cost of legal education for students, the financing of law schools, student loans and educational debt. It will also consider current practices of law schools regarding the use of merit scholarships, tuition discounting and need-based aid.

“As law school tuitions and educational debt loads increase at the same time employment opportunities for recent graduates are constrained, the ABA needs to lead a thorough examination of the financing of legal education and law schools,” Silkenat said. “Members of the ABA Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education will conduct a comprehensive study of the complex economic and political issues involved and produce sound recommendations to inform policymakers throughout the legal community.”

Members of the task force include:

  • Dennis W. Archer (chair), a Detroit lawyer, Detroit mayor for two terms from 1994 to 2001 and associate justice of the Michigan Supreme Court from 1986 to 1990. He was ABA president from 2003 to 2004 and is chairman emeritus of the Detroit-headquartered law firm Dickinson Wright. Archer serves on the boards of Johnson Controls and Masco Corp. He is also on the board of Progressus Therapy, a nationwide provider of school-based therapy and early intervention services for school districts and communities across the country, and InfiLaw, a consortium of independently owned and operated ABA-approved law schools.
  • Luke Bierman, who will become the dean of Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, N.C., on June 1 and formerly served as general counsel to the comptroller of the State of New York.
  • Christopher Chapman, president and CEO of Access Group, a nonprofit membership organization of 192 ABA-approved law schools that works to further access, affordability and the value of legal education through research, policy advocacy, direct member and student educational services, and student financing options.
  • William Curry, partner with Sullivan & Worcester in Boston who focuses on general corporate and securities law.
  • Heather Jarvis, adviser on student loan issues ( and advocate for reducing the financial barriers to practicing public interest law.
  • Goodwin Liu, associate justice of the California Supreme Court and former professor at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law.
  • Rachel Moran, dean, University of California at Los Angeles School of Law.
  • Lucian Pera, treasurer of the ABA and partner with Adams and Reese LLP in Memphis.
  • Erika Robinson, associate at Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun & Rogers in Marietta, Ga., who focuses on education law. She is a former law student liaison to the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.
  • Jason Mark Sengheiser, law clerk with the Missouri Court of Appeals and a member of the Missouri Bar’s Young Lawyers Section Council.
  • Kurt Schmoke, interim provost and chief academic officer, vice president and general counsel of Howard University and former mayor of Baltimore.
  • Philip Schrag, professor at Georgetown University Law Center.
  • Joseph West, president and CEO of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.
  • Robert Wilcox, dean of the University of South Carolina School of Law.

ABA Tax Section, Legal Education | Permalink


Holy cow, what a poor list. We have, inter alia, an executive with the private-equity backed, for-profit InfiLaw chain of law schools, the ex-dean of my quickly-sinking law school that thinks costing $71k/year is somehow not antithetical to being a "public interest-oriented law school," the president of AccessGroup, a nonprofit student lender that is actually jointly owned by all the accredited law schools as a membership corporation and originated about $11 billion in Student Loan Asset-Backed Securities from 2000-10 - in lockstep with its constituent law schools raising tuition far in excess of any other branch of higher education - and currently sits on some $300 million or so, despite no longer lending and having farmed out its loan admin to third parties, and Phil Schrag, who insists that PSLF is a contractual right in part of everyone's Master Promissory Note even though the Federal Registry explicitly says 1) that it is not and 2) even if it was, Congress could still take away that right in the future if it so desired. I look forward to reading this committee's misinformation and delusions.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | May 7, 2014 6:51:57 AM

I'm not looking forward to the results. This looks to me like the ABA is tying to give the impression to those outside of the legal community (e.g., Congress) that they are taking the problem seriously, while at the same time letting law schools know that they don't really need to be worried about proposals for drastic change (by the membership selection). I hope I'm wrong.

Posted by: Former Editor | May 7, 2014 7:30:55 AM

In my opinion, the U.S. government should not guarantee loans for graduate level programs unless institutions can show an adequate rate of return for their outgoing students (some sort of debt to salary ratio for credit guaranteed). I think it is fair to suggest that by doing so many law schools would no longer have students receiving financial aid covering the full amount of tuition. Schools will shutdown or adapt. I am not as concerned with this as I am the creation of a generation of debtors that have no commercially reasonable method of paying off education debt. Let the Universities hold the debt of their students if they believe so much in their curriculum and keep the debt off the taxpayers plate.

Posted by: Employed Northeastern | May 7, 2014 8:37:43 AM

Former Editor,

I think you are wrong. I think the purpose of convening this meeting is to see if there is a way to reduce the increasing reliance on merit scholaships to attract students, and thereby increase revenue.

This has the smell of a price-fixing endeavor.

Posted by: JM | May 7, 2014 10:04:39 AM