Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Jeffrey Harrison (Florida), Legal Education, Public Goods, and the Ratings Race:
Once upon a time the public good rationale might have been the basis for subsidizing legal education. ...
[L]et's suspend our disbelief if necessary and say there continues to be a public good rationale. Let's see how law schools are responding in the era of a rankings race (or law school mutually assured destruction). Law Schools cut the size of classes as a way to increase their entering class GPAs and LSAT scores. The compete for and recruit students for the same reason almost as aggressively as college coaches. They attract students by paying them — REGARDLESS OF NEED — and, unlike college athletes, there appears to be no limit to what can be offered. Yes, they pay students to attend a specific law school who would attend a law school somewhere without the payment. Law schools operate massive "development" offices that seek financial support for their addiction to the rankings racket.
How many of these practices are responsible reactions to a possibly imaginary rationale for public subsidization of legal education? None. The benefits flow to very very few and certainly not to the public.