No worries. Be happy. Forget last week's dire reports that some law schools won't survive. So what if law school applications have dropped 20 percent since last year? And who cares about that nonsense about making law school more relevant?
Already, The Wall Street Journal reports that there's a bumper crop of new law schools on the horizon:
Indiana Tech's new law school in Fort Wayne will be the state's fifth when it opens this fall. The law school the University of North Texas plans to open in Dallas next year will be just down the road from Southern Methodist University's Dedman School of Law, and less than an hour's drive from one in Fort Worth that Texas A&M University is in the process of buying from Texas Wesleyan University, one of nine in the state.
According to the WSJ, new law schools are booming, "with 19 new schools getting ABA's stamp of approval since 2000, and more on deck." In some locales, there's "something of an arms race" for law schools, says this follow-up WSJ article. For instance, the University of Idaho’s law school in Moscow "is now seeking to expand its satellite campus in Boise," where Concordia University Law School launched last fall.
The rationale for opening these new schools is—brace yourself—demand. “We’re in an area of great legal need," said Concordia dean Cathy Silak to the WSJ. "We have the second-lowest ratio of lawyers to residents in the U.S.”
But may I make a suggestion that would be a lot more efficient than opening a new law school? Why not ship off those unemployed law grads to Boise? They get jobs, and that lopsided ratio of lawyers to residents will be fixed. Presto.
Alas, that would be way too rational. Plus, I honestly believe law schools operate under their own economic theory. Fact is, it may be a good gamble to open a brand-new law school. For one, there are always suckers who will be lured by the J.D. degree. And so long as they can scrape together the money, they will find a law school to accept them.
It might end up for some as the biggest mistake of their lives, and society will pay a price, but the law schools will do just fine. So shouldn't we all just join the bandwagon and invest in a fresh batch of law schools?
Bred for success? Naturally. The results aren't surprising, so why do I find this latest poll of college freshmen a bit depressing?
Using data from responses by nearly 40,000 college freshmen between 2006 and 2009, research released by the Law School Admission Council looks at the attitudes of freshmen, comparing those who later applied to law school to those who did not. Reports Karen Sloan at The National Law Journal:
Aspiring lawyers tend to be more self-confident, enjoy more family wealth, and are more likely to have a lawyer parent than the average college student, according to research released by the Law School Admission Council."
So far, so good. But here's the part that kind of made me roll my eyes:
The aspiring lawyers rated themselves more highly than the typical college student regarding academic ability, public speaking, drive to achieve, and tendency to socialize with students outside their own race. Of the eventual law school applicants, 87 percent reported that they had 'above average' academic abilities, compared to 69 percent of all college freshmen.
In sum, these lawyer puppies are a bit smug—maybe quite smug. They think they're smarter, richer, more articulate, and cooler than the next guy. In other words, they're absolutely perfect for the legal profession.
Maybe I'm romanticizing youth way too much, but couldn't they defy the stereotype just a little?
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