Reason Not to Go to Law School #44

It’s really expensive.

Wait…what?  Yes, I know, I’ve previously covered how expensive law school is, and how you’d be better off spending the money to buy a house in Vegas and gorge on pizza, whiskey and hookers.  But, here’s a whole new angle to just how ridiculously expensive law school is.

Quick refresher of just how much a single year of tuition is at a few schools:

Yale: $48,000

Chicago: $45,000

UVA: $39,000

Notre Dame: $39,000

American: $41,000

I think you get the idea.

The ABA requires you to park your ass in front of an over-paid douche bag for 56,000 minutes to get your paper.  That is, roughly 933 hours.  So, if your school costs you $30,000 in tuition per year, which is pretty low, it comes out to about $96 per hour to get educated.  (If you came up with $32/hr, you forgot that law school is three years.)  On the cheaper end, if you spent $20,000 a year, it would cost $64 an hour.  And, at the extreme high end, in the $48,000 range, we’re looking at $156 an hour.

As I discussed just a few days ago, there’s these classes that lawyers are required to take called Continuing Legal Education (CLE).  They basically cover changes in the law as well as basic stuff you should have learned in law school.  The one I attended on Friday cost $310 and had 6 hours of instruction.  So, you were getting legally educated at the low price of $52/hr.  That’s cheaper than all but a few schools that offer deep discounts for in-state tuition, and it’s a whole helluva lot less of the more common $96/hr price tag.

But, maybe the class I took was unusual.  We should look at a few other CLE classes and get their prices.  After all, the class was in Alabama, and we can expect the prices to be cheaper here.

Tomorrow (and the next day), there is a CLE in New York on Current Issues in Immigration Law for US Employers.  It costs $455 for a whopping 15.5 hours of CLE credit.  $29/hr.  Wow.  And, if you’re a member of the New York State Bar Association, it’s only $23/hr.

There’s also a drunk driving litigation CLE coming up in New York.  10.5 credit for $430.  $41/hr, or $29/hr with membership discount.

These are some pretty big bundles though, so maybe I should look at how much it costs to get smaller sessions.

NYSBA has a Landlord and Tenant Practice CLE that’s only 2 hours long and costs…oh, shit… it’s free.

Okay, here we go, ethics issues for solo practitioners, 3 hours at the price of $210.  $70/hr ($47/hr for members).  That’s more like it!

So, there are some high priced CLEs out there after all.  They’re tough to find, but they do exist.  Of course, the really expensive CLEs are still less than half the price of the high-end law schools.  LESS THAN HALF.

Oh, and get this, your CLEs include hand outs.  They basically come with the text book.  And mine last week also came with breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack, a flash drive with a copy of the printed materials (great for allowing electronic searches), and a parking token.  That’s right, a fracking $5 parking token so we got to park in the garage attached to the building for free.  BOOYA.  Good luck getting such a complete package from your law school classes.

But really, there’s one big concept that makes the law school prices just completely outrageous:

Economy.  Of.  Scale.

CLEs, just like law school, require facilities (rented, instead of owned), websites, administrative staff, tech support, the whole works.  But, if you know anything about how economics works, you know that as you provide a service to a larger group, it becomes cheaper.  So, you would think law schools, which often times have well over 1000 JD students (and then more LLMs) would be able to offer legal education at a much cheaper rate.  And, with CLEs you get a cheaper rate when you buy a big whole day, or even two-day package.  Basically, a bulk discount.  So, you’d think a 3-year package should be super cheap.  Law school should be the Costco or Sam’s Club of legal education.

Why the fuck isn’t it?

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5 Responses to “Reason Not to Go to Law School #44”

  1. Joe Says:

    Everyone knows the cost of tuition has been going up. I am not exactly sure why, other than schools raise tuition because they can. The higher the tuition the more future years of earnings the schools are taking from graduates. All of this is made possible by the easy credit federal loans, that are available to anyone. The really horrible scenario arises when you spend time attending law school, borrow heavily, and there is not the good paying job that you were promised by your law school’s admission brochures, then compound interest starts working against you. Unlike almost any other debt where you have put yourself in a catastrophic position, student loans are virtually non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. At about this time, the law school sends you a request for a donation. Yeah, here is $10,000 Mr. Law School so you can name a book shelf after me. I cannot believe they get tax exempt non-profit status. It just makes you mad. Then years later away from law school you realize that law school and the bar exam were a total waste of time for actually practicing law.

    What should ruin the current law school model is the internet. There is no reason why the whole law school and bar exam experience cannot be done over the internet for a tenth of the cost. I really do not understand why law schools are not scared to death. When you go to law school you are paying for two things. One is the name of the law school. If you go to a top law school like Yale and just by attending it opens all the doors then you are getting value. However, most law schools are not opening doors. In that case, you are paying for the actual teaching that you are given, which is crap and has little to do with actually practicing law. Many law professors never practiced law. Every year they go over the same dead material that never changes. They do not teach practical skills. This could be put into an internet model and shown over and over again to new classes at little or no additional cost at any place in the world. Most of the 19th and 18th century cases like who owns the fox have nothing to do with real law like defending a DUI, filing a bankruptcy, preparing a real estate settlement statement, defending someone at a removal hearing, and so on.

    Law school is so useless and non-value added in so many ways. Instead law school is something to overcome like a disease.

  2. bl1y Says:

    The reason that law schools haven’t been driven out of business is that it’s very hard to get admitted to a state bar without going to an ABA accredited school, and the ABA requires butts in seats.

    While I don’t think the internet is going to revolutionize law by creating cheap distance ed programs, I think it does have another important role to play, and that is information sharing. 10 or 20 years ago, where were you going to go to find out that law school and practice are complete jokes? Your only shot is if you know a lawyer willing to admit that his life is worthless.

    Now there are tons of blogs and such out there documenting just how bad the situation is. And, fortunately, professors and deans can have pretty fragile egos. I think right now they’re hoping that the criticism will blow over as the market recovers, and it might. But, if people who are unsatisfied remain persistent and get the word out, there is a real chance of shaming law schools into doing a better job. The biggest problem though is going to be that deans are at their schools for years, sometimes decades, and are paid to carry their school’s banner. How long can an unpaid blogger keep up the opposing view?

  3. Joe Says:

    It is a growing problem that is not going away, so I think you will keep having more and more company. I do not know if something dramatic will eventually happen, but it is a bubble. How long can law schools irresponsibly keep pumping out larger numbers of untrained, six-figure indebted, graduates into an over-saturated job market?

    By the way, the ABA has to be the worst trade organization ever created. I have never seen any other trade organization that goes out of its way to harm its members.

  4. bl1y Says:

    One option is to have people who feel passionately about the problems become more active in the ABA. I have a position on a YLD committee, and I plan to use it to advocate as strongly as I can for providing young attorneys with low cost, effective legal education.

    The real trouble is that most people who feel strongly about the problems in the profession leave the profession and stop caring. I might not be involved long enough to work my way up to a more important position.

  5. Hank Says:

    Yea, law school is expensive, but where else can you get the credential that practically guarantees you top shelf twat?

    With a BA, I would probably wind up with a puerto rican secretary, but now, I’m in line for boning some higher class pussy.

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