Thursday, September 5, 2013

Does Clinical Education Raise Tuition?

Many argue that clinical education, with its small classes, is expensive and raises tuition costs. In a
recent article, “Pricing Clinical Education,” Professor Robert Kuehn disagrees and documents his
position.

Here is the abstract:

Some blame the cost of clinical legal education for high law school
tuition. They argue that, regardless of the educational and employment benefits
to students, clinical legal education, and law clinics in particular, are too
expensive to expand or require for all students in a time of decreasing law
school enrollments and revenues. This article is an empirical examination of
that claim.

Reviewing tuition, curricular and enrollment data from all law schools,
this article demonstrates that 79% of law schools already have the capacity to
provide a clinical experience to every student without adding courses or
faculty, although only 15% presently require or guarantee that training. It
finds there is no effect on the tuition and fees students pay from requiring or
guaranteeing every student a clinical experience, no difference in tuition between
schools that already have sufficient capacity to provide a clinical experience
to each student and those that do not, and no tuition growth associated with
the increased availability of law clinics for students or increased
participation of students in law clinics. It concludes that providing a
clinical experience to every law student has not cost, and need not cost,
students more in tuition and is more a question of will than cost. 

Here are the concluding paragraphs: 

The conclusion of the early study of law school curricula and clinical course costs turned out to be accurate -- in spite of potentially higher costs for some clinical courses, a school’s curriculum
can be structured to give every J.D. student a clinical experience without
having to charge students more in tuition.139 The new empirical study presented
herein, in addition to showing that 79% of schools already have the capacity to
provide each student with clinical training prior to graduation, did not find
any tuition effect from requiring or guaranteeing every student a clinical
experience, between schools that already have sufficient capacity to provide a clinical
experience to each graduating student and those that do not, from increased
availability of law clinics or increased participation of students in law
clinics, or from offering students a highly regarded clinical education program.

 Students that are being provided more clinical education opportunities, or even required or assured of a chance to enroll in a law clinic, are not paying more in tuition. Stated alternatively,
students that are provided fewer clinical education opportunities, or not
offered law clinic training, do not benefit financially from this lost
educational opportunity by paying less in tuition and fee. Contrary to what is
sometimes claimed, this study, and the examples at a number of schools, show
that providing or requiring every student clinical training in law school need
not cost students more in tuition.

 Although the costs of instruction are part of any curriculum design, the costs of clinical courses do not justify the failure of law schools to provide students with more clinical training. Rather,
the real debate over law school curricula and costs should focus on what
students need to learn in school to begin the practice of law and how best it
can be taught. If the focus is kept on students and what they should be
obtaining from their professional education, available resources can be
allocated to provide a clinical experience for every student without raising
tuition. If the will is truly there among law schools and the legal profession
to refocus the curriculum of legal education to provide students with more
practice-based, clinical coursework, the price of clinical legal education will
not impede schools from providing that training for all graduates. 

(ljs)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_skills/2013/09/does-clinical-education-raise-tuition.html

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Comments

Great post. I read the article too.

Posted by: brian | Nov 26, 2013 10:33:53 PM

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