In yesterday’s New York Times, this interesting article discusses the role that the American Bar Association’s accrediting process for law schools plays in preventing Americans from having access to the legal services they need at affordable prices. That role is nothing new: as the article explains, it was during the Depression that the ABA first persuaded states to adopt rules that protected ABA-approved law schools from low-cost competition from night schools.
Law professors and high-end practitioners benefit from the ABA’s protection. Americans needing legal services and law-school graduates who don’t get the lucrative jobs (but who do pay inflated tuitions) suffer. Consider this sad reflection by a lawyer who graduated from law school in 2004 with $200,000 in loans and who “quickly abandoned her long-held ambition to become a prosecutor”:
“Right now, loans control every aspect of my life,” she said. “Where I practice, the number of children I’ll have, where I live, the type of house I can live in. I honestly believe I’ll be a grandparent before I pay off my loans. I have yet to make even a dent in them.”