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11/01/2011

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mls

I believe you are quoting O'Brien, not Olivas.

Also, I am not quite sure what you are saying. You may have received a high quality education, but did that education prepare you for the legal marketplace of today and the future? Did it provide value commensurate with what you paid (or the taxpayers paid) for your education?

GK

A good first step is to dump all socratic-casebook classes, at least after the first year, and train 2L/3L students with CLE materials from NITA or ATLA.

Law profs can learn how to create multiple choice scantron exams on the CLE materials (to be administered every 3 weeks) from undergrad profs and from high school teachers.

Last I checked, NITA or ATLA materials cost a few hundred dollars. The only additional cost is for a law prof to open up the book and read from it.

Kyle McEntee


@mls, thank you for the correction. I've changed it. My apologies to both Dean O'Brien and Professor Olivas for mixing that up.

To answer your questions:

- I received a high quality education.
- It did not prepare me well enough to practice law. (With the caveat that I can only base this on how I feel now about my ability to represent somebody else's legal interests.)

Quality education is not, unfortunately, necessarily synonymous with attorney preparedness. We need to reassess how we define 'quality' and also who gets to define it.

That I would not be ready to practice law right away, and that I would need to take a bar prep course, are things I knew going in. But law school is the only option reasonably available to enter the legal profession. So I did it.

In my case, I am entering one of the federal hardship programs because I will not be able to service my debts next month. I am more capable for having gone to law school and may not repay all of my principal -- that will depend on what my next 10-25 years look like professionally. But if I repay very little relative to my total debt, given my opportunity costs to go to law school, I probably will come out on top.

But does the taxpayer?

When dealing with this question, I think it's important to move the discussion from the micro to the macro. It doesn't matter whether some individuals were a good investment for the government. Maybe I was, maybe I wasn't. What matters is the aggregate cost to the taxpayer. Presently, the cost of obtaining a legal education is obscene. The consequences go beyond individual cost-benefit analyses. Ability to eventually pay doesn't justify educational costs at these levels.

Bill Henderson

If any law professors make it down to Kyle's comment, it is worth reading twice. Kyle represents of the sentiments of many many law graduates. He is reasonable. And he and his fellow students have become politically mobilized. And our fate rests with loans issued by the federal government. And the ABA has not played it hand well.

This is macro issue that affects us. bh.

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About the Blog

  • Rising tuition. Misleading employment statistics. Inadequate skills training. Law schools have faced plenty of criticism for their role in the struggles of young lawyers today. The National Law Journal has assembled a panel of legal educators and law graduates to discuss whether law schools are facing a crisis, and how they should respond to their mounting problems.

Law School Review Contributors

  • Brian Tamanaha
    A professor at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law who writes about law schools on the blog Balkinization
  • Erwin Chemerinsky
    Founding dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law
  • John F. O’Brien
    Dean of the New England Law, Boston and chairman of the Council of the American Bar Association’s Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar
  • Kyle McEntee
    A 2011 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School and the executive director of Law School Transparency, a nonprofit group advocating for legal education reform
  • Lucille Jewel
    Professor at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School who has written about the problems faced by recent law school graduates
  • Michael A. Olivas
    A professor at the University of Houston Law Center and the current president of the Association of American Law Schools
  • William Henderson
    Professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law—Bloomington who studies the legal profession

Law School Review: Further Reading