Law Schools Need to Lead the Profession

A recent Wall Street Journal article revealed an interesting solution some law schools are proposing to reverse the current overabundance of law school graduates searching vainly for jobs that just don’t exist: accept fewer students. While this would seem like an obvious step to take, only 10 of the 200 law schools in the US are actually planning to do it. Those who aren’t admitting less students seem most worried about the lost revenue, even in the face of lawsuits by disgruntled graduates who claim they were misinformed about their job prospects upon graduation. Meanwhile, law schools that are cutting class sizes seem most motivated by the fact that smaller classes will allow them to be more selective about LSAT scores, etc., thereby bolstering their all-important U.S. News & World Report rankings.

What we’re wondering is, why are lost revenue and school rankings factoring more prominently than adapting to the rapidly changing landscape of the profession? Is part of the problem that those at the threshold of the profession are setting a tone (money first) that results in all those terrible lawyer jokes in the first place?

Perhaps the point that’s being missed is in the how. How do we play this game to win? The profession is changing, and there are fewer jobs available to law school graduates. So how do we find people we think really have the drive and ability to be successful lawyers, and how do we prepare them to succeed? Shouldn’t we encourage students to gauge their level of passion about pursuing a career in law, and to make a truly informed decision? If law schools’ purpose is – in its simplest form – to educate lawyers, then shouldn’t it start with whether or not law school is even the right move, regardless of how much it might cost in lost tuition? If legal educators come from a place of generosity, they can lead students in the best direction for them and for the profession, which is far better than fighting lawsuits from disgruntled graduates who feel misled.

What do you think? Should law schools across the board take responsibility for the number of law students coming up through the ranks and make changes? Chime in below.