Saturday, October 24, 2015

New York Times Editorial Board: The Law School Debt Crisis

The New York Times Editorial Board has published a stinging indictment of the law school debt crisis. (here)


"If this sounds like a scam, that’s because it is. Florida Coastal, in Jacksonville, is one of six for-profit law schools in the country that have been vacuuming up hordes of young people, charging them outrageously high tuition and, after many of the students fail to become lawyers, sticking taxpayers with the tab for their loan defaults.

Yet for-profit schools are not the only offenders. A majority of American law schools, which have nonprofit status, are increasingly engaging in such behavior, and in the process threatening the future of legal education.

Why? The most significant explanation is also the simplest — free money."

"Perhaps the most galling part of this crisis is the misallocation of resources. Even as law schools are churning out unqualified graduates stuck under hopeless mountains of debt, millions of poor and lower-income Americans remain desperate for quality legal representation. Public defenders around the country rely on minuscule budgets to handle overwhelming caseloads. In many cases, the lawyers are so overworked that they cannot provide constitutionally adequate representation for criminal defendants. Civil legal services that help people with housing, immigration and workplace issues are even more scarce, with hardly any public support.

If fewer federal dollars were streaming into law schools’ coffers and more were directed to fund legal services organizations, the legal profession — and the American legal system as a whole — would be better for it."

(Scott Fruehwald)

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