The Great Law School Financial Hoax

Jordan Furlong has posted an article in his blog entitled “The Crossed Purposes of Legal Education” about the law schools responsibility for the gap between what prospective law students imagine about the profession and the reality they find when they enter the legal workforce.

He refers to an article in Forbes describing “the great college hoax” drawing a comparison between professional schools and subprime mortgage hawkers inclluding misguided easy-money policies, half-truths exaggerating the value of its product adding “A few law schools deliberately obfuscate the rewards of a legal career, but too many more finesse or downplay the reality of the debt versus the earning power of a law degree.” 

He goes on to add

“This is an embarrassment, said the panellists at an AALS Committee on Research Program, the podcast of which is available at Tax Law Prof. The strongest words came from New York Law School Dean Richard Matasar: “We should be ashamed of ourselves.  We own our students’ outcomes. We took them. We took their money. We live on their money …. And if they don’t have a good outcome in life, we’re exploiting them. It’s our responsibility to own the outcomes of our institutions.” Southwestern Law Dean Bryant Garth added: “This group [the AALS] has stonewalled completely and killed any kind of real consumer information for 20 or 30 years, and that’s what made U.S. News own this particular enterprise.”

I then posted this Comment

Hi Jordan

As you said,”Law schools are involved in one industry – the granting of legal degrees.”

But here’s what Stanford Law School’s mission is::

“Despite these differences, Stanford Law School’s basic mission has not changed since Nathan Abbott’s day: dedication to the highest standards of excellence in legal scholarship and to the training of lawyers equipped diligently, imaginatively, and honorably to serve their clients and the public; to lead our profession; and to help solve the problems of our nation and the world.”

I think that the Law School Industry should prepare students to practice law and to serve the public.

It is for that reason that I have started my campaign to be appointed the Czar of the Law School Industry…. 

I do have an opening for campaign manager if anyone is interested.


PS I agree with Jared and have proposed for years that we work to pass legislation authorizing apprenticeship in all states that don’t allow it at present (I think that seven states do.)

I thought about it and then went back and posted this additional comment:

I forgot to add that, based on my not having heard one member of one faculty in the last twenty-five years being able to give me a reasonable justification of why law students  should spend a third year at his or her law school, as part of my Law School Industry Czar campaign, I will soon issue a proposed Ukase (the edict of a Czar) that will eliminate the third year of law school, immediately reducing the cost to attend by one-third.