Saturday, February 21, 2015

Law School Survival Strategy From a Former Dean: Cut Tuition by 50%

TaxProf Blog: Law School Survival Strategy From a Former Dean: Cut Tuition by 50%
by James Huffman (former Dean - Lewis & Clark Law School)

****As someone who promoted all of the above as a law school dean and benefited from it all as a law professor, it pains me to acknowledge that during my nearly four-decade career legal education, I abandoned frugality for profligacy. Some of the rise in cost resulted from program expansions in response to a plethora of new legal specialties and from steady pressure from the American Bar Association for more training in lawyering skills that requires a much lower student-faculty ratio.

But the core factor in the escalating cost of legal education is that the guild of law school professors long ago captured the combined regulatory apparatus of the American Bar Association (ABA) and the AALS. We law professors have constructed a legal education model that, first and foremost, serves faculty interests—higher salaries, more faculty protected by tenure, smaller and fewer classes, shorter semesters, generous sabbatical and leave policies and supplemental grants for research and writing. We could not have done better for ourselves, except that the system is now collapsing.

With a new business model, a quality legal education could be provided at half of today’s average tuition. Here are a few suggestions for how to do it:
* Cut faculty numbers in half by requiring faculty to devote most of their time to teaching
* Eliminate tenure and take advantage of a highly competitive market for law professors.
* Reduce law school from three to two years
* Stop the facilities arms race.
* Take greater advantage of online instruction technologies.

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