Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

As many of you know all too well, times are tough in the legal market.  Abovethelaw.com continues to track a steady stream of layoffs, salary reductions, and deferrals at major firms.  While this may be a temporary phenomenon caused by the severity of the Great Recession, some people are starting to ask deeper questions about what this might mean for the current model of legal education.

One possibility, of course, is that students who are thinking about law school will start wondering whether it’s a good investment. Incurring huge debts when there is doubt about the availability of jobs at the end of the rainbow is risky.  If there is a decline in law school applicants (or a shift to less expensive schools) that might put some institutions out of business.  Others suggest that the ABA should consider a two-year degree program to reduce costs, or should emphasize externships or apprenticeship relationships to help students get jobs after they graduate.

At a minimum, we should try to set a positive example of cost containment.  In this respect, I was disappointed to learn that the Maurer Law School of IU- Bloomington (which is the sister of my school) has received preliminary approval for a 24.5% tuition increase for in-state students.  This increase is curious because the Maurer School has received over $100 million in gifts during the past two years. You would think that some of this largesse could be used to help students out in these difficult times.

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