Law Schools

Law Prof's Upcoming Book Chronicles Oversupply of New Lawyers, Proposes Flexible Legal Ed System


A law professor is calling for cheaper, practice-oriented law schools in an upcoming book that chronicles the oversupply of newly minted lawyers.

The book, by Brian Tamanaha, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, has some statistics to illustrate, the New York Times reports at its Opinionator blog. Law schools produce 45,000 new graduates each year, Tamanaha writes, but only 25,000 job openings are projected each year through 2018.

The blog summarizes Tamanaha’s arguments in his book, Failing Law Schools. Despite the dearth of jobs for law grads, many people don’t obtain the legal services they need, Tamanaha says. The problem, he writes, is that providing legal services to underserved communities doesn’t pay enough to attract new lawyers graduating with huge amounts of student debt.

Tamanaha blames higher law school costs on accreditation standards and law-school fudging on U.S. News rankings. To fix the problems, he endorses a more flexible system of legal education, according to the Opinionator and PrawfsBlawg. He sees the need for research-oriented schools operating on the current model, as well as practice-oriented schools staffed by experienced lawyers.

According to PrawfsBlawg, one of Tamanaha’s most important arguments “is that one set of standards or reforms does not fit all. There is and should be room for diversity in a variety of aspects of how law schools structure themselves, including tuition, curriculum, how many years the law degree takes, and the balance of tenured and untenured faculty.”

Related coverage:

ABA Journal: “The Law School Bubble: How Long Will It Last if Law Grads Can’t Pay Bills?”

ABAJournal.com: “NY Times Reporter Sounds off on Legal Education, Accreditation and the ‘Crazy’ Race for Rankings”

ABA Journal: “Changing Course: Initiative Seeks to Emphasize Teaching Practice Skills”

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