Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

How Prestige And Rankings Can Help Law Schools Avoid The Same Fate As The 12% Of Dental Schools That Closed In 1986-1997

Dental SchoolFollowing up on my previous posts:

Eric A. Chiappinelli (Texas Tech), Like Pulling Teeth: How Dental Education's Crisis Shows the Way Forward for Law Schools, 48 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1 (2017) 

Nearly all observers of the current law school crisis treat legal education as a unique discipline. In their view, legal education as a whole, and individual law schools, have nothing to learn from outsiders that would be useful in reacting to, or thriving in the face of, the radical changes in legal education that have resulted from the collapse of the admissions market.

I take an entirely different approach. I believe legal education is not sui generis. In fact, another profession faced a similar crisis. Its schools’ admissions market collapsed because of a fundamental change in the profession itself. Twelve percent of those schools were closed. That profession was dentistry, and the lessons from its crisis are the way forward for legal education and for law schools.

To become less vulnerable to closure, and, in fact, to thrive, a law school needs to take an intentional approach to core external relationships. I identify those relationships and offer my observations on how schools can build them. I also discuss the importance of relative prestige among schools and of a national ranking system. During the dental education crisis dental schools were disadvantaged by a lack of both a prestige system and a ranking system.

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Law and medicine are central to our life. Public discourse surrounds their professional graduates. That is not true for dentistry. So, no. We should not look forward to the closure of top and even middle tier law schools.

Posted by: Bill | Dec 13, 2017 9:01:02 AM