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February 23, 2011


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Jacqui Lipton

We've also heard the argument that if the legal services job market has permanently shrunk, it is irresponsible for schools to take in as many students as they used to ie because the chances of students finding a job after spending all the tuition fees is a lot less. I'm not 100% sure I'm convinced by this argument. Shouldn't students be able to decide for themselves whether a legal education is worth the price of admission in a reduced job market? And also, do we have concrete evidence that the legal services market has irrevocably become smaller? I'd be very interested in what others think.


Is someone going to check back in September and see if Albany actually cut its class the 1.04% it claimed? Generally, schools have a target number, but the actual number can vary by 10 students one way or the other without anyone noticing.


"Shouldn't students be able to decide for themselves whether a legal education is worth the price of admission in a reduced job market?"

Only if they have accurate information to base their decisions. There's good reasons to suspect that law schools aren't honest when it comes to reporting important information necessary to making an informed decisions. Employment stats seems like a good jumping off point.


Shrinking class size seems like a good strategy if law schools can afford it. You keep admission indicators high (or at least maintain them), maintain selectivity, reduce class size and improve student to faculty ratios. Probably on the back end it helps with placement and bar passage if the smaller class is a better qualified one. Of course, this will create budget pressures at law schools. More expensive methods of delivering legal education (i.e. clinics) are likely to be hurt.

Inexpensive VAP programs, on the other hand, will probably bloom like algae. Expanded use of adjuncts, distinguished attorney fellowships (which cost less), more retirement buyouts, tenured and tenure-track faculty shrinkage through attrition, pay freezes and cuts, implementation of performance-based incentives for faculty, etc., seem like reasonable budget strategies.

Jacqui Lipton

X - you raise a good point. I was assuming that schools would be honest about employment stats, but that may simply show that I look at the world through rose colored glasses!

Stephen M (Ethesis)

I would add that the push to move to two year programs rather than provide skills training would mean a need to increase class sizes by 50% to keep up the baseline revenue.

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