Indiana Tech has closed and the Charlotte School of Law is in its death throes. Over the next 10 years, it is reasonable to expect other schools to shut down. The main causes for shutdowns will be bad student outcomes leading to low enrollment or poor financial performance. When this movement started, the law school industrial complex felt invincible and acted with undeserved arrogance; the schools are now on the ropes. What's next for the scamblog movement? What further impact can we make? Are there other structural changes that now deserve our focus?
My personal checklist of things that still need to happen:
The power of the law schools to police themselves is taken away
The ABA is a puppet organization that rubber stamps and answers to the whims of its law school constituency. Since the ABA's founding in 1878, it has done little to help law students. In its early days, the ABA helped eliminate apprenticeship style programss in favor of the current method used to teach law. More recently, the ABA accredited or provisionally accredited schools like Indiana Tech and the Charlotte School of Law. These schools were woefully unprepared to offers results in line with the tuition they charged. The ABA did nothing. Instead, we had to wait until the Indiana Tech Board of Trustees and the Department of Education stepped in to stop the bleeding. The ABA was the body that should have policed the debacles at these schools. Instead, they stood by while students had their money stolen by these subpar institutions. They have no right to continue in a role as a steward for legal education.
Student loans need to be tied to job-related benchmarks
Most people go to law school to get a job. Period. Administrators and professors who claim that students go to law school to learn how to think are out of touch with reality. They should be ignored. The way we can corral costs for law school is to hit them where it hurts: the pocketbook. If law schools continue to provide a useless education to students, then they shouldn't be compensated for it. Instead of allowing places like the Charlotte School of Law to charge $60k to each of their students without any consequences, claw back $50k of that money if enough of their students don't get a job that requires a law degree. Law school administrators will say that would be unfair because people with law degrees have so may different career options. To that I say: BS. Very few people go to law school to become a contracts administrator. They want to become attorneys. If your law school fails to help students become attorneys, then the school and its faculty are abject failures. That is not something to be rewarded. I would prefer that educational debt be dischargeable in bankruptcy, but that may send us down a slippery slope that many people in higher education will fight to the death.
Institute an apprenticeship or trade school model as an option for students
The current model of law school is broken. Do you really think that someone going to Charlotte School of Law will ever find themselves in a negotiation hinging upon an international treaty or some arcane area of law? No. They will likely be handling criminal defense, family law, or traffic; these are areas of law that affect normal people. There is nothing wrong with pursuing a career in these areas of law. But the crippling debt placed on these students preclude them from helping normal people. Getting paid $100 to fix a traffic ticket won't make much of a dent in the average $194,000 cost of attendance. Giving students who don't want to get into Biglaw or elite practice another route is essential. Students should have the option to read the law once again. If they do read the law, then the testing for such students should also be different. Don't make them sit through a two day bar exam, covering areas of law they may not have studied or want to study. Instead, allow them to take a more practical exam, akin to a supersized version of the MPT. The thing that may cause objection is that contributes to the bifurcation of society into haves and have nots. That's a structural problem that goes much deeper than law school; we just need to help students who want to practice law and help others.
We haven't won yet. Not until the cost of law school tuition approaches rationality and we don't have large numbers of law grads roaming the streets unable to work in the field they trained in. For me, this wasn't about sticking it to the law schools (OK, maybe a little bit). My personal goal was more focused on curbing the avarice of the law schools at the expense of their students.