Law School: The Worst Higher Education ‘Investment’

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At Texas Public Policy Foundation, Andrew Gillen has been doing some excellent work analyzing higher education. In a recent study, he used the Obama administration’s “Gainful Employment” methodology to see how law schools would fare if they were put to that test.

What he found was that the great majority of the schools would fail, which is to say that their graduates don’t earn enough to reasonably cover the debts they incur in getting their degrees.

I write about Gillen’s study for the Martin Center today.

Of course, the elite law schools like Harvard pass the test, but many well-regarded schools don’t. The University of North Carolina fails, as do all the other law schools in North Carolina, except for Duke (for which Gillen wasn’t able to get the data).

There is a large need for lawyers in America, but much of the legal work doesn’t pay well enough to justify the huge expense in time and money it takes to get into the field. For that, the American Bar Association is the culprit, since it insists on a needlessly burdensome model of legal education.

My suggestion is that state governments stop mandating graduation from an ABA-accredited school before anyone can take the bar exam. Where one learns the material shouldn’t matter.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.





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