Day: 2010/11/16

Sweetlinks of the Rodeo—“Dean” Tamanaha Destroys His Law School to Save It

Three quick links:

(1) Brian Tamanaha, “My ‘Dean’s Vision’ Acceptance Speech,” in Balkanization

Anti-law school tuition bubble superhero Brian Tamanaha writes a speech that would likely cause faculty to flee in rage while his law school’s US News ranking irreparably plummets…until the tuition bubble pops.

I deliver unto you Dean Tamanaha’s prophecy, behold!

No one knows when the crunch will happen—and it won’t happen at the same time or in the same way for every law school—but happen it will. The schools trapped in this crunch will be those that have embarked on substantial expansions of their faculty. Faculty is the biggest expense on the budget—and tenure makes it difficult to trim this expense. To pay the bills, these schools will be forced to take more students from a declining pool of applicants (leading to a reduction in student credentials), and they will be forced to take greater numbers of transfers from schools of much lower standing. Those lower down schools, in turn, will suffer a serious revenue drain from the departure of a significant proportion of their upper level students.

One quibble: I think it might help a bit if the dean were to lower his law school’s enrollment.

Now let’s see if any law school will hire him as dean.

(2) Managing Partner, “Restoring Dignity to the Law – Those Entering Law School” Part 1 and Part 2, in The Legal Dollar

Managing Partner’s conclusions are similar to my own (namely crushing the tuition bubble, requiring experience before law school), but if you scroll down to my comments, you’ll find I’m a bit more revolutionary than he is.  Specifically, I think we need to specialize the profession along a certification system (one for practice areas as they exist, not a la bar exams designed for general practitioners of 100 years ago), and require several years’ experience up front in a variety of contexts, e.g. paralegals, police detectives, &c.

(Essentially, I was gearing up to a post like this, so I’m a little jealous MP beat me to it.  Early bird, sir.  Early bird.)

(2) Knut, “New York Times Columnist and Cardozo Law Visiting Professor Defends Tuition Increases,” in First Tier Toilet !


Stanley Fish, “There Is No College Cost Crisis,” in The New York Times Blog

I’m just gonna outsource this because I’m really busy this week, so you’ll get no detailed evaluation of either the original or the FTT rebuttal.  I took this nugget:

Just because you are trying to score points by bringing up John “Bailout” Boehner (and, by implication, the Tea Party/Republican resurgence) does not mean that the reader should sympathize with overpaid professors who teach at dubious institutions like Cardozo Law, one of the more prominent culprits of the “law school scam.” This issue, unfortunately for law professors like Mr. Fish, unites both right-wing and left-wing students, who share the same goal of not being exploited or swindled.

One thing I’ve noticed is how clear the tuition bubble (law or higher ed) is to people who are either right-leaning or libertarians, whereas I’m neither.  Now, there’s good reason to suspect an ideological basis for these beliefs: rightists hate universities for corrupting our youth with evil liberal ideas like income inequality being a problem in society, and libertarians hate government period.  The only liberal who’s commented on higher education reform is Robert Reich, who argues that professionals should pay 10% of their income for 10 years back to the government.  By contrast, my economic hero, Dean Baker, appears clueless as to the legal profession’s ills.

I’d prefer a more robust coalition.

Folks, as I said, I’m gonna busy all the rest of this week, so I’ll cover up my absence with some rock and roll later.