Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

More People Figuring Out that Law School’s a Bad Value


More people are figuring out something I’ve been saying for years: Law school is a bad value. Here’s a Chicago Tribune blog post discussing the point.

Earning a law degree takes three years and costs around $150,000. Law-school costs have been going up steadily, while “good” legal jobs are now very scarce for new graduates.

I have a solution that cuts the Gordian Knot: States should allow people to take the bar exam no matter how long and where they studied law. If someone thinks a year of law school is all he needs, fine. Let him try the exam. Most law students will tell you that the amount of useful material they learn drops substantially from the first year to the second and that the third year is overwhelmingly a waste of time and money.

But what if someone could pass the bar exam without ever setting foot in law school? No problem. There is nothing magical about being enrolled in a law-school course. People can and do learn things without being in a formal educational setting.

The American Bar Association uses law school as a barrier to entry. In most states, only individuals who have a degree from an ABA-accredited school are allowed to take the bar exam. This is an artificial restriction that does nothing to ensure good quality legal services for consumers, but protects the legal profession against what lawyers think would be “excessive” competition and law schools by guaranteeing them a market.


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review