Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Are Students Exploited?

My view is that a legal education is an enriching experience even if it does not turn into a $100k plus starting salary. For many students, though, I think it is an investment in human capital. Based on the entry level salaries and placement data it is hard to believe it is an investment that is justified by the rate of return. Yet, I hear little discussion of either decreasing admissions or even placing in the recruiting literature a disclaimer that law school may not be a life changing efforts -- for the better that is. Some of this can be found in US News and World Report but that data is questionable and the massive advertising and student recruitment budgets, even by public schools, are hardly full disclosure.

The reason, albeit not the complete reason, is that lower enrollments mean fewer jobs and if there is anything the privileged are entitled to it is a cushy job. The fact that thousands of law students may be burdened with debt is simply not part of the equation. So let me ask you this: If some portion of law teaching jobs are made possible because students with incomplete information go into debt, or forgo incomes, or have two jobs, is there a moral distinction between those making law school policy and the coal mine owners of say 1920?

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