Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Glenn Reynolds on the Law School Bubble

Glenn Reynolds has an article on the law school crisis in the New York Post.  His main piece of advice: "Don’t go into debt."  He thinks that for today's students it is better to go to a lower ranked law school with scholarship money than a higher ranked one at full price.  He states,  "Debt is what gets people into trouble in bubbles: They borrow heavily because they think the value of what they're buying, whether it's a house or a tulip, will go up.  When it stops going up, they're sunk.  Today, the value of an education isn't going up, but the price is.  That's a bad combination.  So don't borrow heavily."  He also cites studies that say that students study 50% less than they used to and they are learning less than they used to. 

He advocates that "interested citizens" should put pressure on trustees and legislatures of public universities.  Alumni and students can do the same with private schools.  He declares, "Taxpayers should realize that change is unlikely without external pressure, though.  Left to themselves most faculty and administrators (especially administrators) will protect their perquisites to the bitter end."  He also mentions some proposed changes from Brian Tamanaha's forthcoming book "Failing Law Schools."  One possibility is that, if too many graduates are defaulting on their loans, a school would lose eligibility for future loans.  Another is a cap on the total amount of student loans per school, which would help keep tuition down.

Professor Reynolds article is one of many that has appeared in the main stream press over the last few months.  I suspect there will be many more after the publication of Brian Tamanaha's book on June 15.  With student debt so high and law school applications down dramatically, it is time that law schools act, both to deal with the debt/tuition crisis and the quality of legal education crisis.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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