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August 26, 2013

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Barry

Is this going to be like Indiana Tech?

dailyshow

The country needs another law school like a fish needs a bicycle.

ATLprof

Actually, dailyshow, I'll play "devil's advocate" on that one. This will be a public law school with a commitment to lowering law school costs. The law school market needs low cost options to place downward pressure on tuition rates.

(In contrast to the private Indiana Tech, Barry, that charges almost $30,000 in tuition)

One of the primary reasons tuition has skyrocketed in the past few decades is that so many public law schools have ballooned their tuition rates, removing one factor that acted as a partial brake on tuition increases.

BoredJD

This sounds like something that is in between the traditional high-cost Harvard-style school, and the regional or local schools the Monterey dean has been blogging about. The school seems to be trying to keep tuition and class size low while trying to market their grads towards local jobs at small firms and government, which is a smart plan that acknowledges the realities of the hiring market. I wonder if they'll get accredited.

I think we need fewer law schools, but I'd be willing to trade one of the existing ones for a school like this.

Barry

What tuition will the school charge, ATLProf?

dailyshow

ATLProf -- UCIrvine started with free tuition for the first year, and very affordable for the second and third years of operation, and commitment to public service. It now charges $46,800 in state, $53,300 out of state.

UNT, of course, could probably not attract students if it charged more initially in the current environment. If it catches on, I do not see what would stop them from charging what UTexas, another school in the same system charges, and they are up to $49,000 for out of state tuition.

So I do not assume that a new school is "needed" because of its low cost, because that low cost need not go on for long.

Barry

ATLProf: "Actually, dailyshow, I'll play "devil's advocate" on that one. This will be a public law school with a commitment to lowering law school costs. The law school market needs low cost options to place downward pressure on tuition rates. "

I wonder which side 'devil's advocate' would be here :)

The side against the mainstream, powers-that-be side would be that law school is far too expensive, and that any new one will be far too expensive.

However, the side against goodness would be in favor of another law school sending students into a rotting JD job market carrying $150K on up of nondischargeable debt.

harold

But how will UNT Dallas attract qualified faculty if, presumably, they can makes hundreds of thousands of dollars in private practice relative to what UNT will be able to pay?

Why would anyone want to apply for these faculty positions?

ATLprof

The UCI example is a bit spurious, at best. They never said they wanted to be a public law school aimed at keeping costs down. They aimed to be a top ranked law school. They are an example of what I meant by public schools being something other than public schools. They did not give students free rides as a way of "keeping costs down," and then jacked up their prices later. They gave students a free ride in order to buy better students.

UNT has already said how much discount their first students will be getting and what the tuition will be after the initial class. And they've guaranteed that prices will not change while a student is in school. If it is 12.9K/year when you enter, that's what it will be for your three years.

Now will they ever raise? It's possible. It's possible for any school. I doubt it is likely. (1) From a competitive standpoint, they would have a hard time raising it over Houston's tuition rates. (2) The main reason why schools raise tuition is to compete in the US NEWS rankings. UNT will not be able to compete. No new school can do that unless they choose to follow the UCI or St. Thomas (MN) model. Clearly, UNT has not chosen to do that.

For me it comes down to what BoredJD said. Trading this type of law school for an existing one.

I'm more interested in realistic solutions to the problem, rather than some sort of "get rid of law schools by fiat" argument - which has no basis in what could happen. (And as an aside, what that would actually involve, what it would be equivalent to, is not something I think most advocates have thought through - but that is a much longer discussion.)

I would prefer that public law schools, whether new or established, would go back to being public law schools rather than jacking up their tuition for the purpose of playing the rankings game. If they all did that, they could starve the for-profit law schools (such as the Infilaw schools) into non-existence. Public schools could beat them on price and thus capture all the qualified students (another discussion). Now this would not cause the for-profits to simply throw up their arms and quit the game, but it would drive down their numbers and eventually their output measures (bar pass) to an extent that they actually could lose accreditation.

Unfortunately, many public schools have chosen to pursue rankings instead and that has left the door wide open for (1) the creation of for-profit schools and (2) the steep inflation of tuition rates (though it is not the only factor in that, the BigLaw bubble played as large a role).

Why did (do) public schools decide to play the ranking games? Because the market in so many forms demanded it of them - whether that be hiring law firms, prospective students, or alumni. They al scream and scream if rankings drop. So what is a public law school to do? Many have responded to those market pressures.

Anyway, I'm starting to ramble on now. The short version - I think public law schools being public law schools presents a realistic approach to the problem.

ATLprof

Oh, and for Harold, there is plenty of interest in the market for such professor positions, even for a public school charging public appropriate tuition rates.

harold

I don't at all doubt that there is plenty of interest in the market for such professor positions.

I was using sarcasm with regard to the typical faculty argument that they all need to be paid top dollar for plum high quality of life jobs otherwise no school would be able to attract top talent away from practice.

dailyshow

ATL Prof -- Re: "The main reason why schools raise tuition is to compete in the US NEWS rankings."

Cooley raised tuition probably more than anyone else this year (up to $43,000) and I do not think they expect to ever get out of the unranked tier in the US News rankings.

That being said, I think public schools being public schools can keep tuition down. But it will not replace a school -- it will simply add one. Ultimately, it will mean reaching lower into the applicant pool by both this school and its competitors, and adding to the number of new lawyers.

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