Bench Memos

Re: Fighting the Law-School Tuition Scam?

For more on law-school scamming, see the Inside the Law School Scam blog (written by an anonymous “tenured mid-career faculty member at a Tier One school”) and these two recent posts at law professor Jeffrey Harrison’s Class Bias in Higher Education blog. (H/t Orin Kerr.) Here’s an excerpt from the opening post on Inside the Law School Scam (emphasis in original):

I can no longer ignore that, for a very large proportion of my students, law school has become something very much like a scam. And who is doing the scamming? On the most general level, the American economy in the second decade of the 21st century. On a more specific level, the legal profession as a whole. But on what, for legal academics at least, ought to be the most particular, most important, and most morally and practically compelling level, the scammers are the 200 ABA-accredited law schools.  Yet there is no such thing as a “law school” that scams its students — law schools are abstract social institutions, not concrete moral agents. When people say “law school is a scam,” what that really means, at the level of actual moral responsibility, is that law professors are scamming their students.…

We don’t mean to, of course. Like my learned colleagues, I’m just a soul whose intentions are good! And anyway it’s mostly the dean’s fault — it’s not like I was ever consulted about raising tuition 130% etc. etc. Yes there are so many excuses — I hear them every day (or would if I ever saw my co-workers in the office in the summer. Oh yes they’re “working at home.” More on that soon . . .).…

In the end, the fact that law professors don’t intend to scam their students is irrelevant. We are scamming them, or many of them, and we know we are — or we would know if we paid any attention at all to the current relationship between legal academia, legal practice, and the socio-economic system in general, which naturally is why so many of us avoid doing so at all costs.

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