Sunday, June 3, 2012

How to Make Law School Affordable - Brian Tamanaha

Brian Tamanaha has been a thoughtful commentator on the law school dilemma: it is too expensive for graduates to be able to pay off their student debt.   We have seen a massive shift away from support of higher education.  Instead of well-funded public universities providing subsidized price competition, everything has moved toward privatization.  Public support for higher ed has ben replaced by government guaranteed (non-dischargeable) student debt.   Beginning careers massively in hock is an important result of "no new taxes" thinking and voting.  - GWC

How to Make Law School Affordable -
by Prof. Brian Tamanaha
Washington University - St. Louis
If we don’t change the economics of legal education, not only will law schools continue to graduate streams of economic casualties each year, but we will also be erecting an enormous barrier to access to the legal profession: the next generation of American lawyers will consist of the offspring of wealthy families who have the freedom to pursue a variety of legal careers, while everyone else is forced to try to get a corporate law job — and those who fail will struggle under the burden of huge law school debt for decades.
One solution to this problem is to strip away the accreditation requirements that mandate expenditures to support faculty scholarship — for example, deleting the requirement that the bulk of professors be in tenure-track positions, removing limits on teaching loads, not requiring paid research leaves for professors, not requiring substantial library collections and so forth. This would allow some law schools to focus on training competent lawyers at a reasonable cost while others remained committed to academic research. Law students would then be able to choose the type of legal education they desired and could afford.

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