So the ABA might want to “do something” about law school fraud. Way to show up tardy to the party (as usual).
Even if some eventual cap on new law schools is eventually worked out, it will come many years and many tens of thousands of students too late. Students who were suckered out of their tuition dollars during the height of the scam, as well as the even higher number of poor saps who are taking refuge in law school during the recession, will not be helped by this. There will be at least a decade’s worth of law grads who were ushered off into the meat grinder while schools were getting rich and the ABA stood idle. Ten years, approximately 40-45 thousand law grads a year...400,000 condemned souls. That's one hell of a lost generation.
As tuition increased by leaps and bounds, often doubling in the course of a five year period during the last decade, these plump leeches kept sucking and seeking out more warm bodies. As the ABA and law schools presided over a steady decline in decent, sustainable, real legal jobs, they made sure the doors to the profession were propped wide open, and then added more and more schools for good measure. When the economy was battered and ALL employment prospects went into a precipitous decline, making it even harder for underemployed JDs to ever find work in ANY field, they responded by encouraging more people to ride out the recession in law school. Then they printed out more school literature and US News magazines filled with their blatant lies about employment and salary statistics, and raised tuition another 10% per annum for good measure.
So I’m glad that someone in that cavernous, non-responsive realm of the “powers that be” is finally going to start a committee to take a look at making a recommendation that might finally be considered to be eventually enacted sometime after 2011. No one ever said they were speedy. At the very least, another 45,000 law school victims will be parted from their tuition dollars during this time and put on the conveyor belt towards eventual unemployment and inability to service their student debt. To top it all off, the ABA only proposes that schools hand out this “honest and transparent” information to students who are already admitted, i.e. those who have already invested time and money on their misguided journey into law school. They'll have thus already swallowed schools’ lies about the employment situation many times over. (“Yes, the economy is bad, but those graduates who work hard and get good grades will always do well.”) You know the drill.
Law students and recently-minted lawyers are truly assaulted on all sides in their struggle to keep their heads above water, service their massive debt, and keep food on the table. We are faced with an ignorant, uncaring, and negligent professional organization that has ceded all responsibility in defending and upholding the integrity of the legal profession. We have to deal with an even more ignorant general public who is still convinced that all lawyers “make the big bucks,” and that society always “looks out” for lawyers. We have to contend with an inept federal government that thinks more education and more students in law school is always the answer, and encourages schools to jack up their tuition in response to unlimited federal student aid. No one is asking for a pity party, but the very best that blathering commentators can ever do is claim that law students should have "done more research" or they should just "look harder" for those nonexistent jobs.
None of these problems are going to be solved overnight. Indeed, the skeptics among us will say that they are too far metastasized to ever be corrected. The fetid, fatal cancer that has been killing the legal profession for years is now moving in for the kill, and the over-saturation and perpetual decline in job prospects is but a symptom. This all may be true, and in my heart of hearts I’d agree that the horrible problems facing most law students and recent graduates are almost insurmountable. A good starting point in doing the right thing would be for the ABA to start taking its mission of promoting an honest, robust, and viable legal profession seriously. “Defending liberty, pursuing justice,” as their motto goes, cannot include sitting idly by while law schools bankrupt the profession of all credibility and debase whatever slim portion of prestige it still has by continuing to accept any student with $150,000 and a pulse. For as much as law schools like to claim that they are the gatekeepers of truth, justice, honesty, and all sorts of other feel-good buzzwords, it’s clear through their duplicity and entirely profit-driven motives that they are anything but. I don’t trust the ABA to solve the problem, as they have sat on their hands for years as the law school scam got woefully out of hand, but any step in the right direction must be better than continuing down the current path.