November 17, 2010
Should Law Schools Publish Warnings for Prospective Applicants?
Ari Kaplan Advisors has released The Evolution of the Legal Profession: A Conversation with the Legal Community’s Thought Leaders on the Front Lines of an Industry in Transition, the first in a series of report that combines insights from a cross-section of the legal community, ranging from the deans of law schools and prominent practitioners, to in-house counsel, law professors and other industry experts, to examine whether the profession is experiencing a short term blip or if it is in the middle of a paradigm shift that will materially change the way law is practiced. From the introduction:
The enthusiasm for law school notwithstanding, the economy is forcing law firms to reevaluate the business model under which most institutions have been operating since their creation generations ago. Due to similar economic pressure, corporate clients are engaging in fewer strategic transactions and are forcing their lawyers to consider price reductions and alternative fee arrangements on those matters they are pursuing. This confluence of considerations is shifting the balance of power and forging a new model in the delivery of legal services.
"In the case of what ails legal education, however, it is not very easy to assign [responsibility for the 'enthusiasm for law school' exhibited by law school applicants]" writes Ari L. Kaplan because most prospective law students sincerely believe they will graduate in the top 10 percent of the class and law school applicants are generally naive consumers of debt. In his NLJ article, Would Law School Warning Labels Help?, Kaplan writes
If law schools really want to start addressing the transformation of the legal industry, perhaps they should consider providing stronger warnings.
That said, would it have made any difference to you if law schools warned students on their websites and in every piece of marketing that 90 percent of students are ranked below the top 10 percent of the class or that the number of jobs that pay $160,000 per year has dropped significantly? Consider all of the serious warnings adults ignore every day.
Perhaps schools should highlight the number of graduates who stop practicing after one year, five years and 10. Maybe revealing the percentage of law school graduates that default on their loans will have an impact... .
Maybe there is a way to offer a percentage of tuition insurance. Schools could charge even more for the first year and propose some type of money-back guarantee covered by the overall increase in its fees.
- Law Firm Hiring Model Adjusting to New Economic Reality of Legal Services Industry
- Is the Legal Academy "Big But Brittle" in the New Economy?