Responding to growing, twin crises in the legal field, the American Bar Association announced on Friday that all accredited law schools must provide their students four years of instruction, rather than the traditional three. To make matters worse, the ABA announced that the requirement applies to anyone who has yet to complete law school. 3L’s at law schools across the nation, many of whom had already secured bar study loans and lined up jobs, will be forced to put off those plans for a year, and put themselves substantially in debt.
I believe in the market. People generally know what they want and how much it’s worth to them. Or they should. So it’s buyer beware. But around the time of the Financial Crisis—give or take a few years—the market for legal education was dysfunctional, and some think it’s still so.
The main issue was that schools, from the prominent to the struggling, were fudging their employment statistics and costs of attendance. Common tactics included lumping part-time, non-legal jobs, and law school funded jobs into a school’s employment rate, and leaving off living costs during winter and summer break. That’s misleading when attending law school could cost students $100,000 a year, including cost of living. Part-time non-legal jobs ain’t gonna cut it.