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The glass is half-full. The glass is HALF-FULL. THE GLASS IS FREAKING FULL.
Brooklyn Law School Dean Nick Allard seems to be that sort of man. He's the leader of the club that's too expensive for you and me. (BLS, 50k, better win the lot-ter-ry!) Dean Allard recently made a list of law school predictions for 2014, which were published by the Brooklyn Eagle. Here they are, in shortened form, with a few annotations.
For his sake, and the sake of students everywhere, we hope his wildest fantasies come true.
1. "Ten years from now, people will look back at 2014 and say it marked the start of the new world of law: a renaissance where the respect and reputation of lawyers and law schools began to rise by measurable benchmarks."
Seriously? The working class hates the lawyer because, out of arrogance, we demand "respect and reputation," instead of actually trying to help him. Also, we charge too much. The upper-class hates the lawyer because we overbill and joke about it via email.
And there is little hope of the recent grad filling the oft-vacant role of noble neighborhood shingle-hanger with reasonable rates. Why? BLS charges 50k. Per year. Plus interest, if you use student loans to finance your education.
2. "Significantly, in 2014 the ABA will lead the way to restoring the national reputation of law as an honorable, noble profession. [Mentions Magna Carta conference in London that no one can afford to attend.]"
Wait, the ABA leads things? We thought they censured law schools over minor issues, provided CLEs, took divisive stances on issues that have nothing to do with the practice of law, and had really nifty conferences. We haven't seen much, in terms of leadership, during this recent industry collapse, however.
3. "In 2013 only 11 law schools (including Brooklyn Law School) had more entering students than the previous year. In 2014 there will be more than 20."
A debt-ridden law school upped their entering class size? Actually, yeah, we'd imagine a few schools will take that route.
4. "In 2013 there were nine law schools with two-year JD options, including Brooklyn Law School. In 2014 at least 10 more will adopt some form of accelerated JD option, and in five years more than 50 law schools will offer them."
Two-year programs mean similar revenue (summer classes cost $$$ too!), but faster churn (graduating classes every two years!). Spot-on, old chap! Plus, the President thinks the third year is a waste of time so ...
5. "2014 will be the year law schools begin to attack not only the quality issue -- that is the value proposition of a JD -- but also the affordability issue. Law schools will finally begin to attack their irrational and inequitable business model by taking on the heretofore unmentioned elephant in the room, the huge amounts spent on merit scholarships that drive tuition up paid by students who do not receive the scholarships."
We hope so. Truthfully, this is exactly what needs to happen. But some school has to blink first. And when they do drop merit scholarships and tuition, their admissions stats, and by extension, ranking and "prestige," will drop along with it. The sticker price of a law school education shouldn't be $150,0000, especially when that education merely nets happy, warm, prestige points and suffixes.
6. "On the job front, the employment rates reported in 2014 will be substantially higher than in 2013."
After five straight years of decline, is there anywhere to go but up? (Knocks on wood.)
What's our prediction? Nothing will happen. Employment rates will continue to stagnate, especially since Class of 2013 was the biggest yet, in terms of 1L enrollment. For the Class of 2016, which started back in September, we saw some schools cut class sizes to maintain admissions standards (Washington and Lee), while others bloated their class size for revenue purposes (Wake Forest). The net effect will be a smaller entering class for 2014-2015.
As for tuition cuts, we'd imagine a school with plummeting demand will probably bloat its class size while slashing tuition. They stay afloat, but stats and prestige suffers. No one else follows.