Kyle McEntee (Law School Transparency), Price Discrimination Will Ultimately Bite Law Schools:
Our investigation into law school admissions practices and trends has sent shock waves through the legal profession. Some law school deans remain in denial, but more (at least privately) want a minority of law schools to stop damaging legal education’s reputation. With no united front among law schools, influential members of Congress waiting to pounce, and the ABA primed to act, it seems the bets some schools made on regulatory inaction were misplaced.
One reason these bets may prove lethal is that law schools charge higher prices to those who are more likely to struggle.
This is one particularly egregious artifact of the U.S. News rankings methodology, which affects how law schools allocate scholarship money. Scholarships are predominately provided in exchange for relatively higher LSAT scores and, to a lesser extent, GPAs. While these resources decisions have always been questionable, they become even more ethically dubious as price discrimination shifts even more dramatically towards discounting tuition for those most likely to complete school, pass the bar, and obtain a legal job.
That many of these scholarships are conditional adds an additional layer of moral complexity. A conditional scholarship is one that depends on law school performance, which the LSAT is designed to predict. ...
The combined effect of similar prices and more students paying full price at serious risk schools is higher average borrowing. Average borrowing follows a strange pattern (image to the right). The minimal risk schools have higher averages than low risk and modest risk schools, in part because they offer better job prospects. But the average amount borrowed at the high risk schools is higher than the average amount at even minimal risk schools, with the amount increasing at very high risk and extreme risk schools too. So not only are students at these schools less likely to get legal jobs, they’re more likely to accumulate tons of debt, despite facing the longest odds of ultimately obtaining a law license. ...
The risks schools are taking are bad enough, but they’re worse when you account for conditional scholarships, the percentage paying full freight, job prospects, salary prospects, and debt. These factors drive a wedge between reality and claims that serious risk schools are motivated by opportunity rather than survival. It’s not a stretch to see how they make it easier for the ABA and government to act.