I wonder if the New York Times’ David Segal will ever weary of taking down law schools and in particular, the American Bar Association (ABA). So wedded to the status quo are the legal guild’s stakeholders, that despite all of Segal’s excellent exposés, nothing’s going to change until either market forces discipline the industry and force some law schools to go belly up or the feds step in again to finally break up the cartel.
For now, however, it’s like the old joke my late father-in-law liked to tell about “Gettin’ the Mule’s Attention.” You have to first hit it over the head with a 2 x 4.
The Feds did it once before when under a 1996 antitrust consent decree, the ABA agreed to stop ginning the accreditation process, including helping to fix law school faculty and administration compensation. The Justice Department took out the 2 x 4 again in 2006 and forced the ABA to acknowledge Antitrust Consent Decree violations. The ABA admitted to violating the Decree’s framework of “structural reforms and compliance obligations” and agreed to pay $185,000 in fees and costs incurred by the Justice Department during its investigation.
Like all his other highly critical reports on law schools and the ABA, e.g., “Law School Economics – Job Market Weakens, Tuition Rises” and “Is Law School a Losing Game?“ and “What They Don’t Teach Law Students: Lawyering,” this one also pulled no punches.
However, the money quote in today’s story about how ABA law school accreditation requirements drive up tuition costs comes from UNLV Boyd Law School’s Professor Nancy Rapoport, author of “Eating Our Cake and Having It, Too: Why Real Change is so Difficult in Law Schools.” She tells Segal, “You’ve got a lot of happy law professors, who don’t want to change anything.”