flcath wrote:Okay, for the purposes of this post, I'll accept the fiction that TJSL students chose to become TJSL students on the basis of an informed, rational choice.
I'm fine with them paying out of pocket for to go to TJSL. I'm even fine with them securing a private loan from a lender willing to take the risk on them (banks would do it for an HYS student; do you think they'd do it for a TJSL kid?). But why the hell is the gov't offering this person a loan that (1) will be destructive, on average, to the student, (2) will be destructive to *all* students, since they will have to compete--directly or indirectly--with that (artificially created) student, (3) will be destructive to the legal profession and its clients, since it dilutes the quality of the profession, and (4) will be destructive to the taxpayers who suffer when the student defaults?
Why not offer kids gov't loans for Lamborghinis, using the same logic of "oh, well they knew the risks of going into debt for a $200,000 car on a $30K salary, so who are we to tell them they can't do it?"
First of all I want to say that I actually agree with you. I hate the idea of the government backing education loans especially when they go to for-profit universities (University of Phoenix, Full Sail University, etc.).
However, I disagree that it harms the profession or dilutes the quality of the lawyer. The reason the ABA allows TTTs (instead of going the route of the MD schools you often post about) is because they want broad access to legal services. I am not sure if they have truly increased the access to legal services but I can guarantee you that if you shut down all the TTTs tomorrow there would be a shortage of legal services in the next decade that would dwarf anything the medical profession has ever seen. If the TTTs aren't giving broader access to legal services they are at least holding the amount of access steady.
Second, I don't necessarily think that attending a higher ranked school makes you a better lawyer. Most lawyers agree the things you do in law school and on the LSAT have no direct correlation to your success at actually practicing law. And then there is the study that reported that non-t14 grads were actually making partner at much higher rates then their elite school counterparts. Source: http://www-source.abajournal.com/news/article/do_elite_law_grads_disdain_longtime_biglaw_work_stats_suggest_lower-tier
The part about it possibly being destructive to students and tax payers i agree with. If people want to take risks on education it should be with their own money or financed privately. However, implementing a change like that would have to come in the form of larger educations finance reform which is much bigger than a few TTT law schools.
1) There is a shortage of legal services not because there are not enough lawyers but because there are not enough clients who can pay lawyers. Put it another way, the market for clients who can pay seeking lawyers is pretty damn good. The market for clients who can't pay does not depend on the "free market" but on how much government intervention is involved- does the government see access to decent criminal and civil legal services as a fundamental right? This determines how much funding is available for legal aid, etc.
Much of the demand for legal services is a demand for lawyers at $0 or much lower than it takes to run a practice and support yourself. I fail to see how dumping people with higher startup costs (because of 150K of debt) on the market is going to change this. This just makes it more likely they are going to take the first decent paying non-law job to start paying down the debt.
2) The oversupply of grads hurts the profession because of the massive PR hit we're taking, both directly and indirectly. People are slowly losing faith that law is a gateway to an upper-middle class life. Now it's just another fucking job, and one you have to incur 100K in costs to get. Recent law grads are living with their parents, working for 12/hr, working retail or food services, working for free. The word is getting out there, both through basic observation and articles in the NYT and other national media.
What protects all lawyers from price competition is, at the end of the day, the reputation of the profession for self-policing. That's what allows unauthorized practice laws to stand. The ABA and state bars have lost all control of law schools and if you don't think this isn't going to translate into less respect for the profession overall you're dreaming.
3) The above doesn't even begin to touch on the effects to the taxpayer and society in the form of outstanding student loan debt that will drag down the economy. Law students regularly graduate with 100K or 150K in debt, at the higher end of the spectrum. Consigning people who are of above-average intelligence to 150K in debt peonage in their mid-twenties is bad social policy. TJSL is one of the highest ranked schools in terms of average debt load, IIRC.
In short: anyone who lived through the recession should understand implicitly that letting people make stupid financial decisions as a matter of course will blowback on all of us in the end. Like the above poster said I really don't care how we solve the problem. Hell, keep TJSL and all the 200 ABA schools and have them all slash class sizes proportionate to their job placement. Just solve the fucking problem before it buries us all.