Paul L. Caron

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Dean Allard Responds To New York Times Editorial On The Law School Crisis

NY Times Logo (2015)Law Deans on Legal Education Blog:  The New York Times Controversy, by Nicholas Allard (Dean, Brooklyn):

The time has come for the legal community — and law schools in particular — to press the reset button on the reputation of our profession. As Deans, we should not stand silent as those with biases and outdated or inaccurate information recycle myths and tired, predictable versions of their “wisdom” about our profession, law schools and the quality of newly minted lawyers. Over and over again.

The overarching challenge facing lawyers and the law school community across the country is that there is virtually no effective public counterweight to offset the worn perceptions repeated by high visibility media and others. We must, together, come to the defense of the value of law and lawyers, and make the compelling case for lawyers’ contribution to society in general and America’s national experiment in democracy, in particular. We need to highlight how valuable lawyers are to our nation’s leadership around the world, and the important role our law schools play in developing lawyers that will provide the legal expertise necessary to assure our nation’s stability in the future.

As we seek to attract the next generations of practitioners, we should remember to keep front and center the relevancy of our central message and vision: the value of our profession in these absolutely essential pursuits. ...

Let's stop the hand wringing, whining and the recycling of misperceptions. Let’s instead call attention to the positive value of our profession and the contribution we, our colleagues, and our students make. Let’s challenge ourselves and our institutions to do better. ...

We are the ones who can help renew our country. We are the ones who can help make it less splintered, less litigious and more solutions oriented. If not us, then who? What choice do we have? Amidst transformative societal change, we need more than ever what lawyers do: help clarify and move issues forward to resolution through Analysis, Advice and Advocacy. This is work lawyers, not lay people or computers, must do. It is work worthy of the time, energy and money our students invest in earning their law degree.

Today, we must, and can, do better making our case in the affirmative. I look forward to hearing and watching you make the case.

Legal Education | Permalink


Rob T.:

"Demagoguery and simplistic analysis usually carries the day . . ."

(1) What is your opinion about so many of the schools ranked roughly 15th to 75th that for many years created a strong perception that a $100K+ salary outcome at graduation was a typical outcome (i.e., posted an average started salary of say $105K) when in fact $55K was the more realistic number? Are you in denial that this took place or do you think the practice was OK and people should just be quiet about it?

(2) What is your opinion about so many graduates claiming to have learned more about the law in a two-month bar prep course than after three years of the method of instruction that entails asking students about judicial opinions and then having a single exam at the end of the semester for each course, an approach along the lines of which no other academic program uses to instruct?

Posted by: anon. 25 | Nov 1, 2015 5:37:46 PM


May I direct your attention to the plummeting credentials of the shrinking law school class. Must be a coincidence, eh?"

Yes, indeed, the simple-minded, demagogic whining of the scam crew has had an influence. Demagoguery and simplistic analysis usually carries the day, especially in the U.S.A., where any sort of public debate immediately turns into a race to the bottom. Hence, the perfectly reasonable call by legal academics to begin rebutting their crtitics.

Posted by: Rob T. | Oct 30, 2015 2:24:58 PM

"The scam critics can bray all they want but they are not having much of an impact."

The scam critics exposed the fraudulent employment data and now that the real data is available the number of attendees has plummeted -- and many lives have been altered for the better. I would say that's quite an impressive impact.

Posted by: anon. 25 | Oct 30, 2015 8:18:10 AM

"The scam critics can bray all they want but they are not having much of an impact."


May I direct your attention to the plummeting credentials of the shrinking law school class. Must be a coincidence, eh?

Posted by: terry malloy | Oct 30, 2015 6:00:57 AM


You can't actually believe that law school is underpriced?

Some people are beyond hope. I pray that the real grifters are doomed to practice law for a living some day.

Posted by: Jojo | Oct 29, 2015 7:53:50 PM

What is the basis of the conclusion that law school is too expensive? The loans get paid back even by Florida Coastal grads. The returns over a career are so large that arguably law school is underpriced. In any case there is a fixed component to the cost of law school in the form of tenure and competitive faculty salaries so to survive law schools are doing what they can to avoid shutdown. They may err slightly on the downside with a slight uptick in bar failures but even those students still walk away with a net positive improvement in their human capital. The scam critics can bray all they want but they are not having much of an impact. In that regard I think Allard's comments aren't all that important as there is little reason to be concerned for the institution.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 29, 2015 7:13:31 PM

I think he's giving Baghdad Bob a run for his money...

Posted by: Todd | Oct 29, 2015 5:51:36 PM

The dean of Brooklyn law complaining about the main stream media. Is an endorsement of Donald Trump next.....

Posted by: MacK | Oct 29, 2015 3:08:06 PM


Look, law faculty aren't dummies. No one is saying that law is not valuable. Lots of people are saying that legal education costs too much, results in too much debt, and provides new grads with insufficient employment opportunities at insufficient wages.

I'd also note that this is the same blowhard who tried to bully Erica Moser at the NCBE. Seems to be everyone's fault but Allard.

Posted by: Jojo | Oct 29, 2015 2:27:07 PM

Twelver -- well stated.

Posted by: anon. 25 | Oct 29, 2015 1:02:46 PM

Brooklyn Law 25th/median/75th percentile LSAT and GPAs for the matriculating class of 2010: 162/163/165, 3.24/3.45/3.66. For the matriculating class of 2014? 153/156/159 and 3.05/3.31/3.53. What more needs be said? Their bar performance rate will continue to suffer, as will their desirability among employers.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Oct 29, 2015 12:43:39 PM

This post illustrates the problem with the though process of law faculty and deans. The perception of the value of law and lawyers is already too high, not too low. The value of law and lawyers is so high that the government will lend law students (even highly unqualified law students) 200k to attend a law school, no questions asked. This is despite the fact that no demand exists for many law graduates, and the market doesn’t support the debt burden incurred by the high cost of law school. There is a simple explanation for why the NYT and other media outlets continue to harshly criticize law schools: law school costs too much.

Posted by: TaxMaan | Oct 29, 2015 12:22:04 PM

It is disingenuous of Dean Allard to characterize this as a crisis facing the legal profession as a whole. By and large, practicing lawyers who have paid attention to this issue are disgusted by the profit-obsessed behavior of schools like Brooklyn and the desperate rhetoric of their leaders. If there is a failure of the legal profession, it's the ABA failing to properly regulate legal education.

Posted by: Twelver | Oct 29, 2015 11:59:16 AM

Dean Allard, Drop your tuition to 20K and I'm listening. Else, this is is just piffle.

Posted by: terry malloy | Oct 29, 2015 11:50:59 AM

Instead of re-working the cost structure of law school to become more attractive to students, Dean Allard calls for a PR campaign. He has insulted the valid concerns of intelligent people who are rejecting law school as an option.

Posted by: JM | Oct 29, 2015 11:29:54 AM