Point-Counter Point: The Value of Law School

For the past few years, law schools have been hammered for their (1) high costs, (2) lousy job market for graduates, and (3) and their marketing.  A dozen or more class-action lawsuits have been filed against law schools for fraudulent advertising, law school applications have been dropping. and “transparency groups” have popped up, trying to shed light on law school graduate employment rates and salaries.

But, as any good lawyer will tell you, there are two sides to every story.  And Lawrence Mitchell, Dean at Case Western Reserve University, provides another side to the story.  Worth a read for prospective law students:


His Op-Ed, however, did not impress one of those bloggers, Above the Law:




2 thoughts on “Point-Counter Point: The Value of Law School

  1. Elie Mystal is never impressed by any argument in favor of going to law school 🙂 However, I think the Case Western’s dean’s reasoning is pretty off base. Alison Monihan over at A Girl’s Guide to Law School wrote a very good rebuttal to the NYT piece here: http://thegirlsguidetolawschool.com/11/law-school-deans-you-are-the-problem/ It’s not so much that law school is such a terrible idea, it’s just that it’s a terrible idea for more people than realize it. Law schools have done a fantastic job of skewing employment and salary data (see particularly Alison’s point about the bi-modal salary distribution and the way the dean completely glosses over it) in a way that makes a lucrative career and easy debt repayment seem like a given. Truth is, it is absolutely not, but many applicants just don’t realize that because they haven’t parsed the real data–i.e., the stuff that isn’t in the glossy brochure from the law school. Law School Transparency Project, Above the Law, Girls Guide to Law School, are all excellent resources for trying to find the information necessary to make a really informed decision. I think that’s the crux of the problem–with all of the crazy data coming out of law schools (and make no mistake, law schools are the cash cows of every university system, so they really do try to rake in the $$), it has become unnecessarily difficult for prospective applicants to really weigh the benefits of having a law degree vs. the reality of whether those perceived benefits will play out in real life. If someone has all of the information in front of them, and they have been presented with the real data on what law grads’ prospects are, and they still choose to go to law school, then that’s wonderful. It’s a great experience and I loved every minute of it and love my career as a lawyer and would certainly do it again. But prospective applicants need to make sure they’re looking at the real facts regarding salary, employment, debt, and loan repayment, and take all of that into consideration when making the decision on whether to apply and attend.

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