Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Law school a scam?

Somebody asked me the other day why I hadn't posted about this NYT article about whether law schools are scams. I didn't because I've said my piece on law school generally and don't like coming off as Bitter Lawyer Girl when, really, I went to a very good law school and am glad that I did and became a lawyer and not, say, a consultant or an i-banker. But other people have snarked on the article and they are funny:

Supply and demand should have caused these lower tier schools to lower their costs to entice students away from the better but more expensive schools.  But they don't need to, because all law schools are free.  Read it again.  All law schools are free.

Not after you graduate, of course, but right now.  Law schools can charge anything they want because everyone has enough money to pay for it- today.  As long as there are guaranteed government loans available for this, there is no economic incentive to lower the costs.  And as long as the price is zero, demand will always be infinity.

If it was true supply and demand, #1 ranked Harvard and #100 ranked Hofstra wouldn't have the same tuition.  But they do, the same as stupid Washington University, which is so stupid it's in Missouri.  "It's underrated."  Bite me.  Are we saying that Hofstra's worth the same money as Harvard?  That people would pay anything to go to Hofstra?  No, they don't have to pay anything to go to Hofstra.  That's the point. 
What I found particularly amusing about the NYT piece is that the profiled graduate went to law school in San Diego but didn't want to work there. When I was interviewing for newbie lawyer jobs, scuttlebutt was to not even bother trying to get a job in San Diego without some preexisting connection, because so many people just try to get jobs there for the weather that they don't take out-of-towners very seriously. Likewise, when I talked to people about New York jobs, people noted that graduates of lower-tier schools located in NYC have a leg up over graduates of similarly ranked institutions elsewhere. But here's this guy, who obviously had to pay full freight at a low-ranked school, doing the exact opposite of what might have helped him. Of course, it's not like I knew that stuff until after making a law school choice either, but might it not have occurred to him? Oh well.
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