The legal profession ought to alter the business model they champion. The model, as is, is a racket. Lots of people want to be lawyers and for different reasons: they have a passion for the law; want to save the world; work for their parents; find a spouse; want a seat at the table; were avid Law and Order fans; among others. Whatever it is that drives people to attend law school are not acceptable to blame for costs of law school being so great.
A legal education provides a necessary basis for a trade that can be very rewarding, while being more informative about this world than most others. Sadly, those who desire such a phenomenal education—now—will have to do so as victims of a crime because the costs greatly outweigh the coveted reward. (Law Schools shouldn’t use the Supply Versus Demand theory when such an education is integral to the advancement of this country.)
The Legal profession’s business model is a Racket…
The model thrives on costs from the entrance exam, to the costs to remain a licensed attorney. Although some people are fortunate enough to be unburdened by the costs—others are not. The crime starts with prospective students being misled about the potential to earn certain wages after graduating versus the cost of attending. Since most law students do not come out earning $160k per year, law schools shouldn’t keep charging students with a correlated price tag. Moreover, there are some institutions that will take a student’s tuition payment for the entire year, but give them the boot after one semester if they can’t beat the bear that is the grading curve. The grading curve is another thing that should change, but that’s another story. More and more law schools continue to pop-up, and tt makes sense because other people are trying to get in on the action.
Other law schools finds ways to bait students to attend on scholarship, but that same scholarship will be rescinded under the unreasonable academic conditions set-up to keep such scholarship. Without that snake behavior, the education is still not worth the overly inflated money it takes to attend given the average salary of lawyers is reducing. Plus, employment rates of attorneys are still too low to merit the price tags of a legal education, especially for students who would like to serve the public interest. A sector that needs help.
Furthermore, after learning for three-years, students will only be unprepared for a necessary exam to be qualified as a lawyer, which requires more exorbitant costs and an agonizing waiting period to be informed of the results. Now, with the legal market being as tight as it is, people can’t meaningfully job hunt without a bar license. One thing is for sure, if things do not change, future lawyers will have a high endurance for pain.
Another example of the racket comes from the state of Illinois. Illinois requires every bar candidate to sit for the bar exam in the city of Chicago. Thus, every law student from around the country that wants to be barred in Illinois must pay to travel to Chicago, pay for downtown Chicago hotels for two days, and pay for downtown Chicago food for two days; after paying costs for the exam itself and after paying costs for studying for the exam.
Obviously, not everyone can get a scholarship or have parents pay their way, or land the job that makes it all worth it. Yes, like everything, the legal career presents challenges, but these challenges are absurd. No matter what, people will continue to attend law school in order to be on a paper chase, or whatever drives them to attend.
Then once a person triumphs through the LSAT, law school, passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam, and passing a state’s bar, as a lawyer that person must pay annual fees to remain a part of the bar. There are also costs for mandatory Continuing Legal Education expectations to remain qualified for the bar. It’s an unnecessarily stressful profession, but not an excuse to be dishonest or be understanding of conduct the falls below the standards set in Professional Responsibility. Paying all of the costs for being lawyer is like paying for “protection.”
It can be fixed
1) Keep all of the things that make law school law school, but reduce the costs associated with attending. Duh! Or; 2) Law schools should find a way to change the curriculum to include more helpful courses to make a lawyer a lawyer, while requiring the incorporation of clinical training as seen in medical school. Students should be provided with a judicial law clerk, private, or government position as training, before graduation. It can be done during that boring and unnecessary third year to give it a benefit instead of furthering an assortment of addictions. If that is done, maybe the costs as is will seem more reasonable.
3) Give the bar exam more than twice a year, which can reduce the waiting period and allow for students to take it on a more flexible schedule while reducing the angst that is associated with the exam. And; 4) Annual bar license costs should be based on a percentage of an attorney’s earnings within that jurisdiction.
The business model shouldn’t just change for law school, but for the entire higher-education academic market. Costs are punkin‘ people out of the opportunity for a brighter future. Although not having a college education or advanced degree is certain to cripple an American’s future in this increasingly educated world.