Friday, August 24, 2018
Mark Cohen (CEO, Legal Mosaic; Distinguished Fellow, Northwestern), Vermont Law School Redux: The Numbers Still Don’t Add Up:
Why Most Law Schools Must Abandon the Academic Arms Race and Become Price Sensitive
Last month I wrote an article, When the Numbers Don’t Add Up: Vermont Law School’s Tenured Faculty Purge and What It Portends. It cast a harsh light on the economics of Vermont Law School (VLS), noting the all-in $70K annual cost of attendance, $122K national average law grad debt; 2.71 times adjusted-for-inflation cost of law school over the past 3 decades; lack of practice readiness or augmented skills possessed by most law grads; a harsh job market; and the folly that all law schools should cost the same or prepare students for identical careers. The dire straits of Vermont Law School—those that lost their jobs and remaining students that will be impacted by the fallout—is no cause for celebration. It does demand sober reflection and prompt action by the ABA and the legal Academy, because, VLS is the tip of the spear.
Kevin Colangelo published a response, Widening the Lens on Vermont Law School, to my article and others focused on VLS. While the author’s title purports to apply a “wider lens” to the subject, it narrows the focus to his personal experience and fond memories of Vermont Law School. He also chronicles some steps the institution has taken to get ahead of the curve in a time of unparalleled legal industry change. Conspicuously absent is a focus on VLS’s finances apart from mention that it is a stand-alone law school in a rural setting that has a meager endowment. ...
The legal Academy must “do more with less.” Vermont Law School—and others—must face the reality that their model of ever-escalating tuition, fancy new buildings, arcane new courses that fascinate their instructors but don’t add much value to students, and a faculty wholly unfamiliar with the marketplace are over. The sad story of Vermont Law School is not new and no doubt will be reprised by others. It’s time to face the numbers and take some painful steps to reduce the cost of tuition and to provide students with the tools required to succeed in today’s marketplace. That’s the lens that matters.
Prior TaxProf Blog posts:
- Vermont Law School Plans Faculty Cuts (June 2, 2018)
- Head Of Vermont's #1 Environmental Law Program Resigns As Law School Restructures (June 11, 2018)
- Vermont Law School Cuts More Than A Dozen Tenured Faculty (June 26, 2018)
- Vermont Strips Tenure From 14 Of 19 Law Profs (July 13, 2018)
- Mark Cohen (Northwestern), Vermont Law School's Tenured Faculty Purge And What It Portends For Legal Education (July 19, 2018)
- More On Vermont Law School's Tenured Faculty Purge (July 20, 2018)
- Michael Simkovic (USC), Northwestern's Mark Cohen Can't Defend His Views On Cause Of Vermont Law School's Purge Of Tenured Faculty (July 25, 2018)
- A Good Move By Vermont Law School (Aug. 20, 2018)