Law Scribbler Podcast

Dean Says ‘Law School Bubble’ Was 25 Years in the Making

Posted Mar 26, 2012 11:04 AM CDT
By Rachel M. Zahorsky

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We received nearly 200 emails and online comments on “The Law School Bubble” cover story in January. The second installment of the Paradigm Shift series, it showed how traditional U.S. legal education paradigms, driven by federal loan underwriting, are not responding to the market forces as law schools continue to add students and raise tuition rates in a mature legal services industry.

In this second part of a two-part podcast series, hear ABA Journal business of law reporter Rachel M. Zahorsky host follow-up discussions with law school deans and professors to explore the merits and critiques of federal loan programs, examine the root causes of the deep debt students face and propose potential solutions to combat future tuition hikes.

In This Podcast:

Phoebe A. Haddon

Phoebe A. Haddon is Dean and Professor of Law at University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

William D. Henderson

William D. Henderson is Professor of Law and Val Nolan Faculty Fellow at Indiana University–Bloomington Maurer School of Law. He is also Director of the Center on the Global Legal Profession.

Gregory Mark

Gregory Mark is Dean and Professor of Law at DePaul University College of Law.

David N. Yellen

David N. Yellen is Dean and Professor of Law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Podcast Transcript

Rachel M. Zahorsky: The impact of federal loan programs in relation to the massive debt of legal grads and their dim prospects for repayment is a critical issue for the legal profession as it continues to navigate changing dynamics, a paradigm shift.

I’m Rachel Zahorsky of the ABA Journal, and today I’m joined by Deans Phoebe Haddon of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, David Yellen of Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Gregory Mark of DePaul University College of Law, and my co-author Professor William Henderson of Indiana University - Bloomington Maurer School of Law and Director of the Center on the Global Legal Profession.

Today we’ll continue to explore the merits of the Law School Bubble story, examine any disagreeing views, and hopefully continue the thought-provoking discussion fueled by the nearly 200 commentors on the piece on ABA Journal.com

Dean Haddon, you said in the story that people warned of the implications of high student debt and a decreasingly likelihood of repayment 10 years ago, but not much attention was paid then. Would you like to add to your comments in respect to the dire situations of law students, recent grads and lawyers today?

Phoebe A. Haddon: Yes, my first recollection of this discussion was about ten years ago and of course that was before the economic downturn but at that time we were focusing on the possibility–the probability at that point–that we were going to see rising interest rate increases and that the amount of debt, plus the higher interest rate was really gonna make it impossible for students to actually carry the kind of debit load even though it was much lower at the time. So, now we have the confluence of both a shrinking job opportunity structure as well as increased debt with interest rates that are going to increase in the future at least, and that will really make it almost impossible for people to continue to carry it unless we relieve it at some place, and so I appreciate what Bill has presented in terms of some of the problems. We could have started working on this earlier, but I have to say that it’s hard to break the habit of depending on tuition and it’s even harder to figure out how you provide a quality education while keeping that cost down. So, I’m really wanting to talk today about alternatives to tuition to help support the increasing cost of education as well as containing some of the costs.

Rachel M. Zahorsky: And, I know that you’ve bee integral in keeping the tuition steady at your school and I’d love to talk about some of the other ideas that we’ve talked about including collaboration across colleges in keeping tuition down, but first I’d love to give Dean Yellen a chance to respond to the story. I know that in some of the discussions that I’ve had with other academics and other people who’ve been doing an analysis of the profession, we’ve discussed that, yes, this has been something that perhaps scholars and academics and those in the profession have been aware of, but until recently it hasn’t been something they’ve been forced to act upon. And, I’d like to ask for your response now to the story in the state that we’re in at the moment.

David N. Yellen: Sure, well the problem of law school tuition and law student debt has been 25 years in the making, so it’s not going to be solved quickly. Although, I think so much has changed that most schools now are trying to work on the problem. Whether bubble tuition–tuition debt bubble is kind of a loaded term and only time will tell whether that’s accurate or whether there’s a better way to describe it, but there’s not doubt that 25 years of tuition rising faster than the rate of inflation is not sustainable. There are a lot of reasons why that happened, a lot of it has to do with competition among schools and the pernicious impact of U.S. News and probably a lack of self control on our parts and the availability of federally backed students loans, but lots of schools now are working on ways to control costs, to look for better more efficient ways to educate our students, to scale back some of the aspects of legal education that have contributed to this cost increase. So, I think we’re all learning. I know it’s not fast enough for a lot of people, but our institutions are like big ships in a lot of ways and they’re hard to turn on a dime.

Rachel M. Zahorsky: And Dean Mark, I know you are trying to implement changes at DePaul as well. Would you like to add to the conversation?

Gregory Mark: Sure, one thing I think that’s important to remember is in the educational world we’re not alone. Tuitions for undergraduate education and indeed for all types of graduate education have been going up a pace and one of the things–one of the reasons for that is there’s a demand by students and for universities to do all kinds of things that have never been one before. I think that in part has made the business a bit more expensive. One of the things that I think at a minimum we can do for our students is to enable them to plan a little bit better so there’s no huge surprises during the pendency of their time in law school, or for that matter at the undergraduate level. So, I think one thing that some schools might wanna consider, one thing that certainly DePaul considered and has done is to say that the tuition you come in at is the tuition that you’ll be leaving with. That even though they may be high it at least allows for some kind of planning. One of the reactions that I’ve seen in the last two decades is student outrage at huge increases during the time that they’re students.

Rachel M. Zahorsky: And Bill, you’ve been studying these issues and you’ve written quite extensively about them and if, as we said, this has taken 25 years in the making and it’s going to take some time to rectify the situation. What does that mean for students now? What does that mean for graduates now? What does that mean for profession? And, I have a feeling you’re going to say we don’t have 25 years to make it right.

William D. Henderson: I think that that’s correct, although I echo the sentiments of the three Deans on the panel. I think that everything they’ve said so far is absolutely truthful. It’s not gonna happen as quickly as we would like. I think that one of the upsides of the federal program–because over a period of time as tuition’s gone up and up and up we’ve basically seen marginalization eventually and preemption of private finance. Finance legal education–the federal government seems to be doing it all. It wasn’t deliberate for legal education, but it was–in 2008, 2009 as Greg was saying, there was a turmoil in the capital markets and one of the things the Obama administration did want to have happen would be we didn’t have enough money, whether it was from the public sector, private sector, the citizenry wouldn’t–the students wouldn’t have cared. They would have been very upset that there wasn’t money to float their education and so in terms of the politics being a market where you have community expectations and voters–first, Bush by enacting a law that allowed the Department of Education to buy federal loans to basically provide liquidity to keep in all of higher education, and in terms of legal education and then as part of the Obama administration’s health care plan basically moving to a point where there’s huge financial incentives to have all of the vast majority of higher education loans for professional schools come through the Department of Education. That has really changed the ball game.

Now, the good thing of that situation is that we have these two programs, one of them is income-based repayment and the other one is the public service program. They basically amount to loan forgiveness if you keep up your payments. Now, there’s a payment that is roughly between 10 percent and 15 percent of your income over a certain threshold–minimum threshold. That actually is functionally insurance against your lack of wages materializing. That’s actually, I think, a great program from a student perspective if you look at all your possible options; that’s not so bad. It’ll feel like a tax when you’re paying it. I have a lot of sympathy for it, but it’s not like you have–you’re going to be thrown into a debtors prison.

So, the difficulty with this, and going with David’s point regarding how to wind this down, I don’t know how long the federal government is going to be patient with this income-based repayment and public service program. If it turns out a lot of the money that gets floated for higher education or for legal education the next several years just doesn’t get repaid, the money doesn’t materialize, the earnings don’t materialize, and we’ve got a large proportion of law school graduates that are basically in a loan forgiveness situation, and so because enrollment right now is at an all time high the federal government is probably going to ask the question, “Why are we continuing to lend money to 50,000 1L students a year when the vast majority of them don’t have the earning power to pay this money back?” And frankly there’s not enough even public service jobs or public interest jobs or law firm jobs to support them all; they seem to be doing non-legal things. That’s the fuse that I think is running that I think we need to worry about, but in a short to medium term we’ve got some latitude and I think that we ought to use that latitude to begin to retool and we can talk about–I think Phoebe has some ideas on that and I’m sure the other Deans do as well. But, we’ve got some time, but not 25 years.

Rachel M. Zahorsky: And Dean Haddon we have talked about certain cross collaboration ideas and initiatives that you’ve proposed and have thought about and sort of felt out to see if this is an option in reducing tuition. Would you like discuss that a little bit more?

Phoebe A. Haddon: Sure, I have been thinking about it in two different ways and actually some of the Deans that are on the call have been part of some of these discussion. One is to think about strategic partnerships with other law schools and people have started doing that and discussing institutional collaboration in a different way. It’s in contrast to what the ranking driven competition model presents; instead of talking about only competition, we could talk about ways to collaborate that will enhance the value of the education we can offer our students. So, I use the model of the five college program in New England where five very different colleges, one university and four colleges, got together and decided to work on sharing some costs and resources. So, they shared costs related to technology because they could offer scale, they could get better contracts, they made determinations about what courses would be held at one college or another and at the time I was on the board at Smith College, so I know that languages was one area and made those kind of strategic decisions to really work together to address some of the cost issues for private schools around that area as well as the state university. And I think we can do the same for law schools, and so for example there are a number of consortia now related to travel, there are consortia dealing with professionalism that Maryland has been a part of and I think that those can be really expanded, particularly on a regional basis so that we can really focus on strengthening certain programs, but not duplicating programs in a way that really drives up cost.

Similarly, in Maryland, we have been talking about a strategic alliance with College Park, which is another campus that has other professional schools, and so working with business schools and engineering schools law schools could really increase the quality of education but decrease the cost. We’ve been working with the Carey Business School as well in Baltimore to try to create leadership programs and other things that if we were to do it on our own would be very, very costly, but very important to the development of the students. So, I’m really wanting to push the notion of collaboration and thinking strategically about how we work together across schools as opposed to simply thinking competitively as a way of containing some costs.

I’d also like to talk perhaps later about public-private partnerships and those are things I’ve been things about as well.

Rachel M. Zahorsky: I would imagine that some type of a collaboration within one university, colleges of business school and a law school be something that would not be fairly easy to execute but that the doors to communication and actually executing that collaboration would be a little bit easier than to take two law schools who are very similar in the U.S. News rankings, who are competing for the same students and have them pair up. DePaul and Loyola are both in Chicago and similarly ranked schools who I assume compete for the same student body. I know when I was applying to law school they were two of my top choices.

Gregory Mark: And an excellent pair of choices they were.

Rachel M. Zahorsky: Dean Yellen and Dean Mark, do you think that something like this could actually exist and if so, how could that be executed? And if not, what types of things would prevent that from happening? I would assume that there has to be certain perspectives, certain paradigms within the way legal education is viewed in order to actually make something like that successful.

Phoebe A. Haddon: Let me say though that the five-college program was Smith, Amherst and Mt. Holyoke, three very competitive schools, three schools seeking the same quality of students. I’m not talking about student competition; I’m talking about thinking strategically about what you offer.

David N. Yellen: Yeah, I think Phoebe’s exactly right, there are surprising obstacles often to cooperation within a university, just logistics wise, and frankly although those partnerships can be really valuable educationally, they are not the kinds of partnerships that in general are going to help keep costs lower. Partnerships among schools have a lot more potential for that and there is some redisant for competitors to compete, to cooperate but there’s lots of programs already on an academic level that, in Chicago for example, all the schools participate in various ways in collaborative things. So, it’s a step beyond that to say offer a course that people can take while enrolled in another school, which could let us each have fewer high level specialty courses, which on the margin might keep costs down but someday I bet there’re some schools in the same city that share library costs to a significant–

Phoebe A. Haddon: That was another–

David N. Yellen: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of potential there. The other thing I want to make sure we at least talk about a little bit is that the ABA standards impose a lot of costs on schools and there’s a lot of debate about what are the proper roles of the standards, but my view is that a lot of current standards should be loosened so that there can be more experimentation and more price competition.

Gregory Mark: If I might, let me–this is Greg–agree with both Phoebe and David about the ways in which cooperation can both enhance the school and do so without really increasing costs. I think Phoebe’s exactly right that there are certain things that don’t have to be offered by every school in very small classes and there’s something to be said for mixing it up with people who you’re going to be practicing with in the same community or across communities over the course of time. But, even within a university there are enormous opportunities to take people who teach in ancillary fields, some of whom actually have JDs, and even when that’s not happening to enhance programs in ways, otherwise we would have to spend money. Phoebe’s given a couple of examples. Let me give you a couple of examples of what we’ve started to do here.

For example, in the clinics, instead of hiring in people to play witnesses and do all that for training purposes we happen to have a very fine theater school, so it’s kind of a win-win. People come over and act out parts in ways that mere law students or people off the street could never pull off. Similarly, in business classes we’re working with our business school to embed business students in some of the hands-on business classes and vice versa so that people begin to understand what it means to have a lawyer-client relationship with people who are actually going to be clients later on. These are things that for which we wouldn’t have to spend tons of money, but we’d have to spend some money on, and it’s a great way of building camaraderie within the institution.

I agree also with David, I would love to see us share certain kinds of stand-alone resources like libraries. It’s got to be cheaper to run a shuttle between us then to subscribe to 50 million different things where you still have to get them in hard copy to the extent anyone still does that.

Phoebe A. Haddon: Can I also mention another area worth pursuing? The ABA is driving us to look more closely at outcome measures and there are other schools on our campuses that have already gone in that direction and education schools that can offer us some additional information and those are areas of collaboration as well.

Rachel M. Zahorsky: And would you like to share some of those examples or would the other Deans like to comment on that?

Gregory Mark: Well, I spent a number of years on a school board so working with people to assess educational outcomes is something that I think we should enter into carefully because you’re going to have to take my word it, it’s a fraught business.

Phoebe A. Haddon: I agree.

Gregory Mark: But, I do think it’s kind of ridiculous in some ways to measure the quality of an institution based the incoming grades and LSAT points of the incoming student body. First of all, it doesn’t tell you what the institution adds; it merely tells you how well it competes in a given kind of market and second it doesn’t tell you anything whatsoever about the value that these students when they become lawyers will have in society, whether or not they practice law.

Phoebe A. Haddon: That’s right.

Rachel M. Zahorsky: Bill, do you have any thoughts on that? I would imagine that–I know from my experience that students that I speak to who use different–would have loved to have statistics like that in choosing a school. I know the recent graduates that I’ve talked to, and I imagine that your students that you interact on a day-to-day basis would be keenly interested in statistics like that and agree that that would be something that would have to be done with care, but when you’re looking at law schools I know from personal experience, you’re looking at it as an investment that will guarantee a return. Rightly so or not, that tends to be how students are entering the market and I think the slew of law students–lawsuits lately have shown that that is very much something that they are expecting when they enter law school. Bill, do you have any comments on that and as well on these issues that we talked about on ways to kind of control costs? Is controlling it at this level going to be enough?

William D. Henderson: Yeah, it’s really great to hear David, Greg and Phoebe talk about this because they really are executives of multi-million dollar operations trying to come up with a competitive strategy that’s going to–and their fiduciaries that’s gonna serve all their stakeholders well. If there’s one comment theme–and I’m excited about the collaborations that are being mentioned. At my school, Indiana University, we’re in the process–we are actively involved in several consortia that are seeking to pool recourses and basically proliferate options for students so they get the same tuition dollars, they can access a different group of professors and different opportunities in terms of travel opportunities and cross placement opportunities. But, the one common theme that ties together everybody’s remarks seems to be educational productivity, getting greater value for the same amount of dollars, and one of the challenges that we’ve dealt with in the last couple of decades is that schools that increase their cost structure get rewarded in the rankings. The most expensive on a per capita basis legal education you can get is the top ten law schools, the Ivy League of the so-called national law schools. Their cost structures are very, very high and we’re not going to be able to–most schools won’t be able to compete in that game.

So, the schools that are on the phone today, including my own Indiana University, we can’t just–we can continue to raise tuition and to try preserve our ranking or alternatively we can go down the road of trying to do more with less and education productivity with the idea that when the financing really becomes an issue, the federal government decides to curtail it, at least our cost structure’s are in-line with the value that we’re offering. Now, that value that we’re offering is the second part of it. One is doing more with less for educational productivity, basically looking how to stretch resources to expand the value for the same price, but also the content. I think it’s possible through better education and really treating ourselves as professional schools, not a graduate school, not a vocational schools, but a professional school that really seeks to focus on the competencies that today’s problem solvers need and that our students, not only could they be practicing lawyers, but they could be non-profit executives, they could be business executives.

We can begin to focus on a slightly broader range of competencies and make that our mission, to equip people to be professionals, professional problem solvers. And I think that’s the opportunity; take the same bucket of tuition, pool resources across a group of progressive law schools and really reinvigorate what it means to have a professional education in a law school. I think that that would be an attractive value proposition that is sustainable.

Gregory Mark: Can I just–this is Greg. Can I comment on that because I think this is really, really, really important? I’m a legal historian and if you look at the way in which graduates of law schools–the arc of their careers over time and what legal education has been for more than a century here, what you discover is that the last quarter century or 30 years are what’s really anomalous; not what’s going on today. If all–I don’t know how–I think at least a couple of us on the phone have part-time or evening programs and for many, many of the students who attended those programs as well as the day programs the whole point of attending these things was to enrich your life and your understating so that you could do more without actually leaving your current job. DePaul is famous, for example, for making lives of policeman in the Chicagoland area better and some then go on to do better things, like become the Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate–one of our graduates–that kind of thing. But, if you look–if you also look at just where lawyers end up in life you discover that huge numbers of them practice law briefly or not at all, but are enormously grateful and we–for what they’ve gotten not just in non-profits and the foundation world, but in the business world.

The leading–one of the leading degrees for CEOs in this country is the law degree and we can’t–we have to be very careful too about the statistics about what a law degree is required for. The four Deans–I guess there are three of us on the phone are all sitting in jobs in which technically are not JD required jobs.

Phoebe A. Haddon: Let me add another dimension to that. I quite agree and in terms of the kind of thinking about collaborations and I want to really push it’s not just problem-solving that Bill was talking about, but also team-based problem-solving and that team in so many different areas includes lawyers, but includes other people. So, business people or healthcare professions or scientists or people who are social workers are all going to be part of a team-based approached to solving some of our most critically pressing social and health problems in the future, and on our campus in particular because we’re a campus of professional schools we’re very sensitive to that. Though we haven’t pushed that mat too much in the past, we are thinking about doing that and so that really calls to me for even more deep thinking about how we can collaborate because it’s going to be important for our students who are going to be those problem solvers to have that exposure to other people.

Rachel M. Zahorsky: Dean Yellen, would you like to jump in?

David N. Yellen: Well, I think that there’s never a shortage of good ideas at law schools for improving our educational product and there’s probably more of that energy now than at any time since I went to law school in the early 1980’s, but we need to keep focused on the cost piece of this in this environment. Unfortunately, we don’t get rewarded and this is a conversation I’ve had with Bill, we don’t get rewarded by the market, meaning legal employers, for the educational innovations that any of our schools undertake. Who firms choose to hire is more the result of where the partners went to school and what they think of them, the schools, either from U.S. News rankings or broadly. I’d love to see some employers really get to know their area schools and sort of weigh-in on what they think is doing a good job in preparing students for the practice of law. So, I think we deserve some credit for working at innovation and more recently on cost control even though the market isn’t really rewarding us for that.

One point about U.S. News has come up a couple of times and I don’t remember if it was Greg or Phoebe who said this. Among the pernicious effects that U.S. News has, putting a very significant weight on expenditures per student is probably the worst thing that they do, and I don’t know how they can claim that that is a strong correlation with law school quality or reputation, so they’d be doing a societal good even if they–I understand they’re gonna keep ranking law schools; that’s how they make money, but they should just eliminate that as a category and focus more on things that matter.

William D. Henderson: David is 100 percent right. This is Bill. That would be a huge public service.

Phoebe A. Haddon: Well, and also we have to acknowledge that these cost and debt issues are going to profoundly effect minority students and less advantaged students and I think that the U.S. News has done a disservice to us in that respect as well.

Gregory Mark: Yeah, I–this is Greg. I cannot help but agree with this. The way in which it’s put us into a competitive dynamic for students has completely upended financial aid. Certainly, and I bet it’s true for all of us, the financial aid world when we went to law school is radically different than it is today. The so-called merit scholarships are designed really to do nothing more than make sure you’ve got the right GPA and LSAT mix–are essentially nothing more than an income transfer from a certain portion of your class to a different portion of your class.

Rachel M. Zahorsky: Is there a way for law schools collectively to circumvent the importance placed on U.S. News & World Report when students are looking to apply to schools or at least diminish that importance? I can sympathize and understand the points made in this conversation and appreciate them, especially as I’ve spoken to many deans and this is constantly an issue that’s brought up yet, time and time again it’s been proven that what law students–prospective law students, use when deciding which law school to go to is U.S. News & World Report and the websites of the prospective law schools. How collectively do law schools go about saying this is what you should be looking at, this is what you should be evaluating and hopefully change what law students are using to evaluate and ultimately make their decision of where to attend school?

William D. Henderson: Can I field that one? Rachel, this is Bill Henderson. Can I take a crack?

Rachel M. Zahorsky: Bill, please we’d love you to.

William D. Henderson: The–I think that’s an extraordinarily good question. I don’t think that the schools can collectively get to do it; there’s an anti trust issue. It’d be great if the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar promulgated certain standards or transparencies that would facilitate a different outcome, but what I think is gonna happen and I would be willing a substantial sum of money on it is that a few law schools are gonna break out of the pack by really–students do look at US News and World Report; there’s not doubt about it, but why do they look at that? Because they want some reasonable estimation of what their employment propects would be and there’s a meaningful correlation between being a top 15 law school and how many employers want to hire you at the end of your three years. There’s not doubt about it, but what the students care about is not the rank; they care about employment and I think addressing what David Yellen was talking about regarding the market doesn’t reward us for innovation, but frankly we’re kinda out of practice. We’ve never really done it before and I think that there’s a possibility of doing the kind of classroom innovation that Phoebe was talking about, team-based learning.

All the employers that I’ve talked that put a high premium on things like team-based learning and emotional intelligence; these are areas we can teach. Then you have to learn how to present it to prospective employers and ask for a taste test and I think it is possible to begin to take market share away from more prestigious schools. Why? Because we didn’t waste three years. We didn’t waste $150,000. We didn’t just do the same- old traditional education. We gave professional education, an education befitting a professional in the 21st century. And I think we can–it’ll be school by school making a name for themselves because employers show up to say well you’re students are well trained on teams or your students are well trained on communication skills or your students have a really good grasp of modern technology and you’re going to see an erosion from just the schools that are resting on their laurels and their brands.

Gregory Mark: Well, this is Greg. If I could comment on that, one thing–it may be that we’ll be able to collaborate in that way, but I think one of the huge mysteries of the last quarter century for me is why there’s no good competition for U.S. News. One way in which we could be rewarded and the firms, agencies and whomever wants to hire our graduates would be able to get that information is through a series of other intermediaries. In business schools perhaps because there’s so many different programs there are 25 different respective rankings and it’s not as–it’s nowhere close to as big an issue as it is with us. If U.S. News had some competitors I bet we would be in a very different world right now.

Phoebe A. Haddon: Well, I do know that both the AALS and the ABA Council have discussed that as a possibility. There seems to be no traction beyond just talking about and I’m not sure that Deans are the place where that discussion can be pushed, but maybe it should be. Maybe we should try to figure out a different place to talk about that as an issue. I think it doesn’t get beyond that proposal stage.

Rachel M. Zahorsky: One thing I’d like to add–please continue.

Phoebe A. Haddon: I was just gonna say, and it’s been discussed for the last 15 years or even more, as long as the rankings have been kind of capturing that kind of attention.

Rachel M. Zahorsky: One thing I’d like to ask if it is discussed, when I speak to those who seem disgruntled, upset, angry about their position after graduation from law school and you really dig to the roots of the angriness it’s not so much that they’re upset with their education as they are with what they’ve paid for it, and as we talk about cost, cost, cost containment, lower costs, is there ever a discussion on what–and I know that with all of the different job opportunities out there and not seeing where careers might go, what is an acceptable value to pay for a legal education? If $150,000 is too much; what about $100,000? What about $75,000? And I understand that that is very, very difficult and a number can never truly be put on it, but is that even part of the discussion as to where should the cost even start and then what can we do? What would even be possible with those types of resources to create an institution?

David N. Yellen: This is David. These discussions are going on these days almost constantly among Deans and others, but here’s the problem from a cost standpoint. We all have these institutions that have grown to the point that they are and the only way to cut costs is to fire people basically and understandably we’re all very reluctant to do that. How we got to this point is a long and somewhat complicated story, partly because of the rankings, partly because of the ABA, partly because of our own ambitions. In the last 20 years we’ve added programs, we have added to the scholarly component of our faculty, we’ve build nicer and newer facilities and at the time the job market was really strong students were in effect demanding these things because they were saying to me, “Gee, if you don’t have lots of good programs and all of these other things, I’m gonna go to Greg’s school or to Chicago-Kent down the street.” So, we all began to compete by spending more money, which was passed onto students in tuition rates rising faster than the rate of inflation.

That pressure is no longer there to keep growing because of the job market and the debt burden, but it’s a big leap from there to scaling things back and that’s the nub of the problem and I think we’d all love to come up with a good relatively painless way to do that, but I think it’s gonna be a more slow evolution that we trim some of the edges of the more elaborate programs, we don’t add things, tuition either stays flat like Phoebe has been wonderfully able to do or at least increases are below the rate of inflation and it’s gonna take some time. And hopefully we’ll look up soon and the job market will be not like it was in the hay day, but better than it’s been for the last three or four years and we’ll reach a better equilibrium point.

Phoebe A. Haddon: I want to mention an additional problem that at least the state schools are confronting and that’s the withdrawal of the state from support for some of the programs that we have created and so it’s going to become even harder for us to compete given the fact that we don’t get state funds in the same respect as we did in the past. So, that increases, I think, the historical relationship of this cost problem. I also add that for all of us, private and state, but particularly I know it from the state side, we have to support the university infrastructure and that has caused a lot of the tuition raising pressure, at least from our standpoint. Even when I don’t need to raise tuition I’m being pressured to increase it because of the need of the University.

Gregory Mark: Yeah, I used to be–this is Greg–at Rutgers and I think Phoebe is exactly right indeed in many states–I don’t know in Pennsylvania or in Maryland rather what the rules are, but basically the–in New Jersey the tuition was set without any real substantive input from the units and it was essentially across the board.

Rachel M. Zahorsky: Deans, I’d love to thank you for participating in today’s discussion. We do have to wrap up although I know we could probably go on for the next couple of hours on this. Again, I really thank you for being a part of this. I think its very important for our readers to hear directly from the law schools, directly from the law school Deans and that genuinely helps to facilitate more positive discussion. Is there anything that you’d like to add to end with and then Bill I’d like to ask if you have anything that you’d like to wrap up with that we discuss that now?

Gregory Mark: I just want to thank you.

Phoebe A. Haddon: And I would thank you too. It’s important to have these discussions and to have them candidly with both Deans and members of the faculty who are really very much affected by these issues as well.

David N. Yellen: Yeah, I think it’s really critical to have these kind of discussions in an open, direct way. There’s a lot that’s troubled about legal education right now. Some of the more inflammatory things that are being said out there really aren’t productive and I think if you talk to legal educators you’ll find a lot of self-reflection and real interest in improving things.

Rachel M. Zahorsky: And Bill, do you have any final thoughts for us as we end this discussion today?

William D. Henderson: I think that the–what David mentioned and Phoebe and Greg, I agree with all their sentiments. I think five or ten years from now I think that legal education will look different than it looks today and that this is going to spur a lot of innovation and actually I think it’s gonna reshuffle the hierarchy a little bit and I think it’s very hard for us to imagine a world in which certain schools aren’t on top and that scholarship isn’t the touchstone of what a great law school is. But, I think that there’s a possibility that we're going to move into a new era where legal education is going to look much more fitting for the time period we’re living in. So, I think better days are ahead.

Rachel M. Zahorsky: Thank you, Bill. I’d also like to thank the Deans for joining us as this is all the time we have for today’s discussion. I encourage our listeners to post their reactions to today’s talk on ABA Journal.com where we will continue to cover the paradigm shift, and its effects, facing the profession today.

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