ABA Journal


New Normal

Only law schools that tackle costs, graduate client-centered lawyers will survive—a dean’s view

Feb 21, 2013, 05:53 pm CST


Waiting for the usual suspects to claim that “all is well” and blame the current crop of law grads for not walking uphill both ways through snow.

By Bob on 2013 02 21, 6:08 pm CST

Stop paying law professors who work 12 hours a weeks six-figures to write articles that nobody reads

By Easy Fix to Cost on 2013 02 21, 6:11 pm CST

Many law professors spend less than 8 hours per week actually on the law school premises. They teach their one or two classes, keep a couple of office hours, then it’s splitsville. Seriously. I’m sure they’d respond that they work real hard from home. Many many hours on their laptops writing their law review articles that nobody reads. “Scholarship” (or, as the law students and practicing attorneys call it, “scholarsh*t). Yes, yes. You must not overextend yourselves you hard-working law professors…we are all depending on your hard, hard labor that you perform from home. Or while on sabbatical to exotic locales. I understand that some of you even blog from time to time. Oh my, so much to do and they only pay you $200,000/year to do it. Good thing those kiddies keep paying you with their student loan money. Oh, wait…the kid’s don’t apply to law school anymore. Uh oh….

By lolzskoolzbclozing on 2013 02 21, 6:13 pm CST

“Law schools will be expected to do more with less.” Biggest expense, by far, of running a law school: personnel.

By Wake Up Call on 2013 02 21, 6:59 pm CST

Why is it that members of the part of the class that made the top half possible are always the first to speak on these “law school” stories.  You think law professors will notice you any more now than when you were in school.  Get over it.  Make the best of what’s left with the rest of your lives.

By Pushkin on 2013 02 21, 10:26 pm CST

It’s good to see the Northeastern Dean using the ABA forum to write his cover letter to become a dean of a better law school.

By Actual Law Student on 2013 02 21, 10:48 pm CST

I think these proposals are on the right track.  I would suggest looking at the Medical School Model.  See how the Medical School Model can be applied to the Law School Model. 

Since there are barriers to non-legal and legal partnerships I would further recommend looking at the law firm structure of Clearspire, the white papers can be found at  Clearspire operates by having a Business Services Company and a Law Firm Company work under a services agreement.  The Law Firm outsources much of the non-legal management to the business services company.  Could the University and a Law Firm with the Name of the University not have a similar arrangement? 

Clearspire is not going to go away, it has millions more than any challenger to its ethical structure. If the larger law firms challenge Clearspire on their ethics the corporations will likely support Clearspire over the other law firms because Clearspire actually wants to save the corporations money not just take as much money as they can.  Clearspire works to be as efficient as possible and pass the savings onto the clients. So if the universities that decided to embrace this suggested approach they would have Clearspire as an ally.  Further the defense bars would likely step in if persuaded because such partnerships are similar to what the insurance companies do as well.  Having a University Firm that actually made money vs. just taking money to educate students, it would likely solve much of the cost problems we are seeing here. 

People can scoff at this idea all they want.  I think the most innovative ideas are the ones where people take proven methods, i.e. university hospitals, and bring them into a new industry, i.e. the legal field.  To get a better understanding of this concept read “The Innovators Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen.  He is a former professor from the Harvard Business School, maybe you have heard of it. 

I am making this a public suggestion because I currently don’t have the resources, nor credentials to bring it about myself.  I think it is needed most of all right now so I have presented it here.  When I do go to Law School, if the university that accepts me does not do this I will bring it to the attention of the University President. I am sure they want to find a way to have the law program make money and bring down costs for students. University do this in an indirect way right now by doing legal clinics where they actually take on low income legal work, my suggestion is to go further and form a law firm that participates in the legal education.

By legaltruth on 2013 02 21, 11:07 pm CST

Pushpin says that those who didn’t finish in the top half of GULC need to keep keepin’ on with the shambles of their lives and not complain. Glad that’s cleared up. Thanks guy!

By Pushpin Says... on 2013 02 21, 11:53 pm CST

most law profs my law school (tier 2) taught 1-2 classes per semester, did a ton of consulting for each money and had to publish 1 or 2 articles every 2 years to keep “tenure” and got paid obscene money and benefits.  Getting paid for publishing these worthless articles in obscure law reviews that no one reads—a total waste of money.  I’m surprised these law schools even stay in business.

By lawgone on 2013 02 22, 3:15 am CST

The entire inefficient scammy legal education industry is built on the edifice of government backed loans. Take away or severely restrict the loan $ and only a few dozen of the better law schools would remain in operation and their tuitions would not be outrageous. Simple.

The system we have now consists of hogs at the trough.

By Loans R Us on 2013 02 22, 5:25 am CST

The law schools have always had a model for how to run a school efficiently and teach their students to be client focused - M.B.A. Programs!  Oh wait, efficiency and organizational capabilities are in the math portion of the brain, so professors with those talents will only be teaching at business schools.  Law professors are just talking heads - replace them with M.B.A.s and you’ll have better run schools (hospitals learned that lesson decades ago - kick the doctors out of administration and bring in trained managers).

By NYS Courts ex-wife on 2013 02 22, 1:27 pm CST

Two things:

1) Northeastern costs more than every law school in New England save for Harvard and Yale, both of which have stellar placement, legitimate financial aid, and LRAP programs with real muscle to them.

2) According to their ABA stats, only 49% of their 2011 graduates found the proverbial full-time, long-term, JD-required jobs within nine months of graduation.  At any salary, and good luck getting salary data out of Northeastern.  HOWEVER, Northeastern insists, as they have for at least a decade, that “on average” 40% of their class get FT, LT, JD-required jobs through a co-op employer.  They have never corroborated this claim, but let’s ignore that.  By power of basic math, that means that LESS THAN 10 PERCENT OF THE CLASS OF 2011 FOUND FULL-TIME, LONG TERM JOBS AS ATTORNEYS IN THE OPEN JOB MARKET.  That represents a thundering rejection of their brand of legal education and lack of grades. 

This is to say nothing of the wildly varying quality of the various co-ops, which range from very good to openly exploitative; the veracity of the number of available employers (employers who haven’t taken a co-op student in five years or more - twenty co-op cycles - are counted as “active” so as to show a big number of participants), or the negative student evaluations of one co-op employer or another that get disappeared faster than General Pinochet’s political opponents did.  Or the teeny-tiny course catalog compared to similarly-sized, less expensive law schools.  Or the faculty and administration which is largely hostile to any non-summer associate looking to break into the private sector to perhaps pay down a bit of the $210,000 sticker price before death.

By Unemployed Northeastern on 2013 02 26, 10:13 pm CST

In response to #7 Look at the new approach being introduced at Arizona State University law school.  They are starting to do as you suggest.

By tom on 2013 02 27, 12:54 am CST

@13 Thanks for identifying this.  I looked up their program.  It is definitely a more progressive program then most others I have seen.  I thought the JD/PH.D. in Psychology was also quite unique.  Arizona does tend to be more progressive than most other states in their educational offerings. University of Pheonix being a great example. I hope ASU moves even further with the clinical programs into more profitable legal areas that can bring down the costs of the legal education and increase the experience the law students receive.

By legaltruth on 2013 02 27, 7:21 am CST

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