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Bill Henderson

Erwin, I appreciate your engagement. I agree: "should change" and "must change" are different that "will change." There are only a handful of companies in the Fortune 500 who remain in the Fortune 500 over a period of decades. Why? Because nothing fails like success; the old way, associated with success, becomes a powerful frame that discourages innovation.

U.S. legal education needs to worry because we have been so profoundly successful. We have made sense of the common law, been architects of laws that have knitted together the national and world economy, provided a template for lawyering and legal education that is being imitated by other parts of the global, etc. Those were yesterdays challenges. Bravo. Mission accomplished.

Today's problems are new and different. Industry comparisons only go far, however. Unlike in earlier generations, law schools are now disproportionately financed by government issued debt. So our fates are not just decided by the preferences of students and employers. If the government is skeptical that class after class of law school graduates have the financial wherewithal to finance their $100K in debt--after all, it needs the repayment to lend to future students--then it can change the terms under which it is willing to lend money. Some base threshold of income or employment as a lawyer would be pretty reasonable criteria.

Your analysis on slow institutional change is 100% accurate. But what too few of us appreciate is that the Sword of Damocles hangs over us. This is not a academic debate.


I heard long before I started 1L that I would not be prepared to be a lawyer but instead would be prepared to tackle legal issues. This makes sense now MORE than it did in the past (if this truly has been going on for as long as it seems) because the profession is now at it's most mobile point. I have yet to hear that a law school in State X will make me wholly unprepared for the other 49 should I ultimately decide to practice elsewhere (except when I often hear "and then there's Louisiana"). Law schools would either need to focus specifically on their state's laws and procedures to the exclusion of all others (and risk general appeal) in order to really prepare them but then the question arises as to how prepared can they/would you want them to be? Prepared for solo outright? Prepared for some minimum hiring requirements of local law firms? I would propose that since we know school administration isn't likely to budge unless given an incentive to do so that it's more likely that some outside innovation in the private sector will pick up any perceived slack and create an entirely new market for ready-set-lawyer education. And we can't forget about a little thing called The Bar (which is the current incentive). A change in that will more quickly change the schools which could then change the profession level.


It certainly looks like the the status quo at your school, Erwin.

Your hardly established, unproven, alumniless, and clearly unnecessary "school" costs as much as the private schools to attend: 44k -in mandatory tuition and fees, 60k total cost of attendance,

I ask your, oh glorious Chemerinsky, to account for the fact that your school was determined to be unnecessary and burdensome on Californians long ago, before the current fiscal crisis, and now, much more so!


You thumbed your nose at the North Carolina deanship for "inadequate" funding issues (in the true spirit of egalitarian support for the little guy LOL), but where is your gold mine in California resources to "do what you want to do" now, you fool?

Are California's resources "adequate to achieve [your]goals for the Law School" or are you going to do it on the backs of your students?

Erwin, oh, Bastian of social justice, please explain why you signed on to lead something that was documented to be unnecessary and thus an unnecessary burden to taxpayers in a state all to familiar with fiscal crisis!

Oh, wait, is it because you are THE Chemerinsky, who's managed to recruit enough "top" narcissistic fools of professors to join you in your fool's errand? Dan Rodriguez tried the same thing at San Diego. True - he isn't THE Chemerinsky...

Is it chutzpah? is it because you are the 1%? Is it selfish ambition, narcissism and greed?

All of the above?

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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