Unbelievably in this saturated legal market, Fort Wayne's Indiana Tech recently announced plans to open another law school. Fortunately, the ever alert The Indiana Law Blog picked up on the story, otherwise I might have missed it for a few days. Here are some highlights from the university's press release:
Fort Wayne, Ind. – The Indiana Tech Board of Trustees has unanimously approved a proposal to move forward with establishing a law school in Fort Wayne.According to Indiana Tech, we don't have enough lawyers in the State of Indiana. Try telling that to recently admitted attorneys who hit the job market only to find there are no jobs. Every year, Indiana licenses hundreds of new attorneys. Yet if you look at university job boards, you'll regularly see maybe 4 or 5 legal job openings listed. The math is not good. Near the end of the press conference, a reporter said that perhaps a law degree could be useful in other areas, an idea which the Indiana Tech spokesman endorsed. That's not reality. The reality is that once you have that law license, you're pigeonholed as an attorney and you're probably not going to be considered for non-lawyer jobs.
The proposal was discussed and voted on after presentation of a feasibility study during the university’s quarterly board meeting on May 13. The feasibility study explored the demand for legal education, the job market for individuals with a law degree, the university’s capability of providing a unique educational experience in the field of law, and the benefits a law school would provide to the community.
Factors that influenced the board’s decision in favor of establishing a law school include:
•The number of lawyers in Indiana: The state is under-served in terms of the number of lawyers relative to the state’s population and economic activity.
•Indiana residents attending law school out-of-state: About half of all Indiana residents who enroll at American Bar Association-approved law schools do so out-of-state.
“There are potential students who desire a law school education who cannot get that education in this area, and there are people in our state who need legal services who don’t have access to them,” Snyder said. “Indiana Tech can help close those gaps.”
During the press conference, it was revealed that first year tuition at the Indiana Tech law school would be $28,000.
I found the Indiana Tech press conference revolting. The university tried to spin opening the new law school as serving the need for more lawyers. No. What it is all about is academic types taking advantage of mostly young people who naively believe fictionalized law school employment statistics and think a law degree is the ticket to financial security. For most students coming out of law schools today, that couldn't be further from the truth.
William Henderson, a law professor at Indian University said it best in the must-read New York Times article "Is Law School a Losing Game" published in January of 2011:
“Enron-type accounting standards have become the norm,” says William Henderson of Indiana University, one of many exasperated law professors who are asking the American Bar Association to overhaul the way law schools assess themselves. “Every time I look at this data, I feel dirty.”Again, I ask why does the Indiana State Bar Association continue to stay on the sidelines while Indiana law schools and Indiana Tech lie about legal job opportunities and salaries?
It is an open secret, Professor Henderson and others say, that schools finesse survey information in dozens of ways. And the survey’s guidelines, which are established not by U.S. News but by the American Bar Association, in conjunction with an organization called the National Association for Law Placement, all but invite trimming.
Other recent articles and blogs of note:
Served: How law schools completely misrepresent their job numbers (New Republic, April 25, 2011)
Watch Out, Law Schools: A United States Senator Wants You To Stop Lying (March 31, 2011)
Law School Graduates Don't Make $160,000 (Forbes Blog, March 23, 2011)
The Incredible Shrinking Law School? It's the Vision of Two NY Deans (Wall Street Journal Blog, March 4, 2011)
Irate law school grads say they were mislead about job prospects (NJ Star-Ledger, August 15, 2010)
Lawyers Against the Law School Scam blog
The Law School Lie: Plenty of Jobs and Great Salaries; Where is The Indiana State Bar Association? (Ogden on Politics, January 12, 2011)
Lies, Damn Lies and Law School Employment Statistics; The Sordid Truth Behind the Numbers (Ogden on Politics, April 22, 2009)
Indiana Tech Misses Memo; Will Open Law School (Restoring Dignity to the Law blog, March 16, 2011)