The Donation Request Letter is an time-honored tradition. Who doesn't like free money, after all?
Snark aside (briefly), one is used to the idea when it comes to one's undergraduate school - after all, undergrad has historically been the stepping stone to a career, or a waypoint that helps open the door to further education (and, later, a career). One might certainly feel inclined to demonstrate gratitute towards one's alma mater in the form of financial gifts, in appreciation of the education and services received. However, given the difficulties that have been endemic to the legal market for some time now, along with misleading employment stats, skyrocketing tuition, and reduced applications, the Law School Donation Request Letter is another animal altogether. See, for example, a correspondent's letter from Valpo Law:
As a side note, some of our readership may not be aware that Valpo's former Dean, Jay Conison, a long-time proponent of law school, recently flew the coop to head that esteemed institution of Infilaw learning, Charlotte School of Law. There is no accounting for taste, I suppose.
However, all is not lost! The crisis in legal education is acknowledged. There has been a lot of "progress" towards "transform[ing]" legal education. The school is moving forward "bold[ly]." The faculty is "first-rate," and the legal writing and research program is one of the "nation's best." (Because we all know that everyone else's writing and research programs must suck.) The school's "reputation" is "intact." The almuni have "made their mark."
Well, I'm ready to donate $50, how about you? The claims in the letter and the data-driven results compiled by LST clearly match, right?
One has to ask what purpose the gifts actually serve. Upon reading the letter, it is not readily apparent how dollars contributed generate "transformation," improve faculty, or help in "vital" ways. It seems odd that the tuition garnered from 200-ish brand-spanking-new 1Ls each year, let alone current 2Ls and 3Ls, does not achieve these goals on their own. No, further appeals for gifts are necessary.
Because if you are willing to give $50 now, you might be willing to give $500 or $500,000 later. The psycology of this behavior is well understood. Given the number of grads going to BigLaw, however, that number doesn't seem to bode towards the high side anytime soon.
I suspect many such letters have gone to many alumni from law schools all across our great nation. As applications continue to slide as the truth continues to come out, watch these appeal become ever more fervent. The deficits have to be made up, somehow.