As Old Guy mentioned earlier this month, Shreveport, Louisiana, is actively exploring getting a new law school, or maybe a branch of Southern, whatever, who cares. Earlier this week, the Louisiana House voted - 98-0 - for the Board of Regents to study the viability of a law school in Shreveport.
In other words, for now at least, they're seeking a feasibility study. Well, why can't we do that here and simply save the legislature some money?
As we know from the Indiana Tech experience, feasibility studies can be rigged by white collar salespeople desperate for a law school, leading well-meaning idiots down a path of disastrous idiocy. Okay ideas go 50-48. Atrocious ones, 98-0.
In contrast, consider this well-reasoned feasibility study for a potential law school in Alaska from 2004, which found that the entire state would only produce about 56 qualified law school applicants each year, not all of whom would necessarily want to attend law school in Alaska since Harvard is still in Massachusetts and people still want to go to places like USC.
Rounding up for convenience, Alaska has approximately 740,000 people. At the 2000 census, it had 630,000, so it is gaining about 6k a year and the estimated population in 2004 would be around 654,000. Using crude math, that means one qualified applicant for every 11,500 residents or so. Nationwide, incidentally, there's currently about one admitted law student for every 8,000 or so people in the general population. As we all know, however, there's too many darn people going to law school, so that number is probably high.
In any event, using the 75-student minimum number cited by the Alaska report, to support a law school, there would need to be an untapped population of 600,000 at an absolute minimum (this is approximately Wyoming's population, and it barely supports a law school dedicated to one single state) and more like 850,000 to a million.
Do we have that in Shreveport? Nope. The metro population for Shreveport, Louisiana, is around 450,000. To get into the range of even minimum law school demand, you have to expand the population radius to include places like Longview, Texas (65 mi., 45k) or Texarkana (70 mi, 40k).
But neither of those places will really feed directly into a new 5th-tier school in Shreveport. Longview residents can get in-state tuition at Texas public schools and Dallas (a two-hour drive away) fills most law school demand by itself with Southern Methodist, Texas A&M, and - now - UNT-Dallas (which was built in 2009, in part, to serve this area!). Texarkana is similar but on the Arkansas side it is just two hours to a state school that is more established and in a better location.
No one is moving from a nicer city to attend law school in freaking Shreveport and no one is fretting about driving two hours to law school instead of one. It's not keeping a single person from going to law school currently, so building a law school in Shreveport would suck demand from schools like UNT-Dallas, UA-Little Rock, Southern U., Loyola-New Orleans, Mississippi COL, and similar places.
It's particularly egregious when you look at the in-state competition's admission scores. In 2018, LSU's hypothetical 25th percentile student is at a 150 LSAT/3.16 GPA. Loyola's is at 148/2.89. Southern's is at an offensive 142/2.55. If there's anyone in Shreveport (or Monroe or Alexandria) with the chops for law school, they can currently get more than enough in scholarship money to make attending one of these places worthwhile and that's before we consider the Texas schools. At a minimum, these paltry scores tell us there's no qualified in-state candidates being rejected or anything; that teat is milked..
"If you look at points south between Baton Rouge and Shreveport and west between Dallas and Shreveport and north between Little Rock and Shreveport and east between Jackson and Shreveport we have one of the largest geographic regions in the country without a law school," Glover said.Good God. Alaska (663 sq. mi.) has no law school. There's no law school anywhere in eastern Montana or northern Wyoming. There's no law school in northern Michigan, Wisconsin, or Minnesota. There's no law school in Nevada outside of the very southern tip. A large swath of the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas is completely devoid of any law school. Western Texas has no law schoolat all.
Yet El Paso survives, same as Reno/Carson City, Mobile/Pensacola, and - yes - Shreveport. Colorado and Wisconsin - these are sizable states with more than 5 million people each, okay? - do just fine with two law schools. Arizona, at 7 million, should have only two. Louisiana doesn't even have five million and it's already got four law schools, two of which objectively suck and a two of which are weak sisters to their southern peers.
Shreveport? Shritttttt. The city's not really growing and if it's made it this long 2019 is not the time to build. If you come up with a feasibility study that says otherwise as to organic law school demand, the countdown to an Indiana Tech-like fate is on, because you're boarding a cruise speeding towards an iceberg even faster than the one boarded by the sophisticated consumers enrolling at Loyola or Southern with a 145 LSAT.
So I'm looking forward to this feasibility report and its exorbitant price tag, because it's either going to take 30 pages to repeat the above or be an incredibly, stupendously expensive lie. And you know, that's sorta fun either way.