In an era where Humanities faculty are dropping like flies, law school faculty members have flourished. A study from the National Jurist indicates that the average law school increased its faculty by 40% over the past ten years.
This is a good thing, as it allows students to be in smaller classes with more access to the instructor and provides law professors with more time for scholarship. On the other hand, the increase in staffing accounts for 48% of the tuition increase from 1998 to 2008. Hmmm.
If asked, would a student desire a lower student to faculty ratio for lower tuition? Based on a highly technical and carefully conducted office survey that included two receptionists, a marketing assistant, and the IT guy, the answer was a resounding yes.
Scenario: I trade a graduate school class with 30 people for the same class with 200 people for $1,000 off my Stafford loan. Would I take this deal? Yes. In fact, I’d prefer it. Skulking in the back because you haven’t done the reading is a whole lot harder when there’s only 30 people in the room. Also, you can’t surreptitiously watch Youtube rap parody videos nearly as well.
On the other hand, the issue isn’t that simple. According to the National Jurist “Law school observers say the dramatic increases are related to two things – an increased need for specialization and the US News & World Report rankings of law schools”. So law schools hire more faculty to get their ratio down, which makes their rankings increase, which means you’ll pay more to get the JD from a school with that reputation, which means, once again the whole thing is a snake eating its own tail. US News & World Report: the gift that keeps on giving.
Hat Tip: Tax Professor Blog
Article by Jodi Triplett of Blueprint LSAT Preparation.