Government Finally Tells Private Law Schools to Slash Tuition, Faculty

…In Korea.

The country’s Ministry of Education wants people from poorer backgrounds to be able to practice law, so its solution is to demand law schools charge less and offer more need-based scholarships, according to The Korea Times.

Average private law school tuition is a scandalous $17,152 annually (it takes about five years, as I discussed last year). The plan calls for a 15 percent tuition cut at Korea’s fifteen private law schools, which would put it below $15,000. The article isn’t clear as to whether public law schools would be affected.

Just to show you that there’s nothing new under the sun, the law schools complained that they’re under financial strain already, with faculty taking up ~$24.0 million while tuition revenue is only $19.7 million. Using math against ABA data for the 2013-14 academic year, I get an average $10.6 million to private law schools (excl. Brigham Young, Pontifical Catholic, and Inter American) from full-time students paying full tuition. I doubt the total is more than $15 million.

The government’s response: “[T]hey can lower the tuition if they restructure their high-cost faculty system.”

Indeed, the faculty numbers the article gives are bizarre: The government’s standard is 312, but they have—and I think this is an average—537. That comes to 8,055 faculty for … 6,021 students at all 25 law schools, which implies a student/faculty ratio well below one. Again, for comparison, in the U.S., the average number of full-time faculty (current definition) at private law schools rose from 35.4 in 1999 to 43.2 in 2014 (peak 48.9 in 2012). We could also easily get by with fewer profs and fewer schools.

Maybe there’s something off in the reporting, and I’m not sure how the ministry can encourage the law schools to cut their tuition levels if they don’t want to. Nonetheless, it makes you wonder whether the law-school system fails wherever it’s tried.

3 comments

  1. With the days of modern video and internet, you can get by with 1 lecturer per area of law. And if you’re going to go with multiple choice especially, or even if you’re not, you can then just grade people around the nation under the same rules.

    Alternatively one per state. If the goal was to reduce costs, there are many ways to do it.

    Of course most academics would be out of jobs if that was the goal, similar to how most attorneys seem to be out of jobs due to the same types of tools available.

  2. I will tell you how to reduce costs. Simple actually. Reduce all law school faculty compensation to what my buddies and I earn in Solo Practice. My Schedule C has hovered around 40K for the last few tax years. Get rid of all these Deans and academics who have not seen the inside of a courtroom since 1998. We will work for 50K with health insurance and carry a double class load. Instead of Penoyer v, Neff and International Shoe, we will teach you how to get a client out of jail or how to get their driving privileges restored. Why do you academics need so much coin to teach these kids law? You have a cush job and don’t have to chase some dope peddler for a fee.

  3. The sentence from the Korea Times story is: “The law schools have 537 full-time instructors as faculty members, hiring 225 more instructors than the government-advised standard of 312.”

    My guess is that the numbers are collective across all 25 schools–i.e., that there are an average of 21-22 professors in each of the 25 schools (527/25), and a student-to-faculty ratio of about 1:11 (6021/537). The government standard would then be an average of 12-13 professors per school (312/25), and a student-to-faculty ratio of about 1:19 (6021/312). The English language version of the article isn’t terribly well-written, though, so I suppose “the law schools” could be the 15 private law schools, which would result in different ratios.

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