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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Harper, "Too Many Law Students, Too Few Legal Jobs"

In this NYT piece ("Too Many Law Students, Too Few Legal Jobs"), Steven Harper (author of The Lawyer Bubble:  A Profession in Crisis) contends (among other things) that:

The crisis in legal education is real. Magical thinking and superficial rhetoric about declining enrollments, better debt counseling for students, and law schools’ experimenting with curriculum changes will not create more jobs. . . .Until student loans bear a rational relationship to individual law school outcomes, law schools will exploit their lack of accountability, the legal education market will remain dysfunctional, and equilibrium between supply and demand will remain elusive.

I'm not sure -- to put it mildly -- what "the answer" is or "the answers" are to concerns and questions about the cost of legal education, the debt-loads incurred by law students, and, for that matter, the future of higher education generally.  But, I do know (I think!) this (channeling Phil Hartman):  Harper is right that "curricular changes" do not "create more jobs" (although it certainly could be that some - not all - well-conceived and carefully thought out changes would help prepare some students better for the jobs that do exist and that are being created).  I continue to think that law schools actually do what they purport to do, and are able to do, pretty well.  This is not standpattism, but a sense -- as I wrote in response to another New York Times piece, about five years ago -- that many (not all!) of the media complaints about legal education are off-base.      

Posted by Rick Garnett on August 25, 2015 at 02:15 PM | Permalink


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