Thursday, January 27, 2022
Debra Moss Vollweiler (Nova), If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em (Virtually): Institutionally Managing Law Students as Consumers in a COVID World, 41 Pace L. Rev. 57 (2020):
In early 2020, I published an article that examined how law schools—with rising costs, pressure on performance metrics and competitive high-profile rankings—were more than ever before being judged on a consumer satisfaction basis by both students and the public [Law School As A Consumer Product]. While that perception has been growing over the past two decades, it had, at that point, seemingly reached a crisis point in legal education. It was clear that when students have their choice of educational institutions, they often act like consumers, and choose to spend their tuition money based on metrics that satisfy them as buyers.
However, once the COVID-19 crisis hit universities and thus law schools nationwide, it became clear that that the issue of students as consumers reached new heights, and the issues previously addressed in this recently published work are now unfolding in new ways, some yet unseen. As per my earlier work, this article does not debate whether law students treat their institutions with a consumer mindset. It presumes they do and seeks to identify and solve these new problems stemming from the COVID crisis for institutions. Part II of this article summarizes how this mindset arose in the shadow of this crisis and where the student consumer mindset now stands in light of the ongoing health crisis. Part III revisits the different areas of law school operations where the traditional academic mindset and student consumer mindset have experienced clashes previously, and identifies new conflicts due to COVID-19, and offers new solutions and strategies as to where and how the consumer pressure should be embraced to make institutional changes under pressure from the COVID mandates, and where consumer pressure should not result in changes because they are not in students’ best long-term interests. Part IV offers some conclusions on these approaches.