twenty wrote:The problem isn't a lack of "prestigious" law schools -- the problem is a lack of legal jobs. It's a zero-sum game. Even if Princeton opened up a law school with 400 seats, that wouldn't mean there are suddenly 400 new biglaw jobs.
I get that, but you mistakenly presume (without warrant) that the quantity, quality and nature of the law schools has no bearing on the availability of legal jobs and sustainable careers. To the contrary, the number and quality of schools can influence the job market. For one, fewer graduates means less competition. Better-trained graduates means wider breadth of alternative career paths for new graduates - including simply hanging up shingles.
Replacing every three "bad" schools with a single "better" one would kill two birds with one stone: (1) it would effectively relieve marketplace pressure by slowing the flood of new graduates into the marketplace (addressing the job shortage we all agree exists), and (2) it would "un-dilute" the profession and add more prestige, especially if legal education is simultaneously reformed to educate lawyers to hit the ground running as entrepreneurs and corporate businessmen. Schools like Northwestern and Penn are already on that page, and have been for years.
The law profession was once considered to be as noble a calling as was medicine. That's all gone now. Improving the candidate pool and their pedigrees, reforming legal education, and even reforming the courts will go a long ways towards changing that.
Again, the recession forced law firms to learn to function with fewer new lawyers. The way to change that is to reform legal education so that new graduates bring tangible, immediately measurable skills to the table. This will drive law firms to renew their old hiring patterns. In essence, law schools can drive demand by changing the way they train law students.
Some law grads would be brave enough to hang shingles right out of law school if the appropriate supervision was available, a minimum number of cases and clients could be guaranteed, and they could earn guaranteed minimum revenues for a period of 5-10 years. That should be an option for those who desire it.
More entrepreneurial training, fewer schools, more prestigious schools, and fewer but better trained graduates...a holistic approach! That's the solution.