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2 Responses

  1. Eric Rasmusen says:

    I may haven mentioned these already, but here are a few things to think about:

    1. The cost of law school is most the opportunity cost of not working. For this, use whatever out-of-college wage is appropriate for the engineering major, the sociology major, or whatever.

    2. What actually *are* law school tuitions? The “list prices” are easy to get, but if most students get discounts for being smart, being poor, being black, or whatever, then the actual price could be much much lower.

    3. Do you have the data to distinguish between the value of a JD for those who go into law vs. those who go into something else?

    4. Professor Ramseyer and I are circulating a new paper for comment that might be of interest to the same people as the US law degree value paper. In particular, note that it has always been true that the vast majority of undergraduate Law majors in Japan do not become lawyers, and with the new graduate law schools, it seems a majority of them don’t either (at least, the bar pass rate is on the order of 25% per year). Yet students think law is worth studying.
    “Lowering the Bar to Raise Up the Bar: Licensing Difficulty and Attorney Quality in Japan”
    http://rasmusen.org/papers/barpass-ram-ras.pdf

  2. Derek Tokaz says:

    Eric,

    I’m not sure if it’s true that most students get discounts. You can use the ABA’s data published through the LSAC official guide for some basic scholarship rates. Here’s a sample of the students receiving any aid at all:

    Alabama: 47.2%
    Albany: 36%
    Columbia: 48.2%
    Denver: 40.8%
    Emory: 76.9%
    Fordham: 36.8%
    Golden Gate: 38.6%
    Gonzaga: 72.7%
    Mercer: 12%
    NYU: 39.6%
    Pepperdine: 60.9%
    UC-Berkeley: 58.9%
    Santa Clara: 47.1%
    Vanderbilt: 80.9%

    It’s certainly true that many students do get a discount, and at some schools most students do get a discount, but at many schools most students pay sticker. I think overall the number of students getting a discount is around 40-50%.

    Defenders of the status quo will say the sticker price is a red herring because so many students get discounts. People who think the system can be improved will say first that the sticker price is what 40-60% of students pay, so it’s hardly irrelevant, and second that the unequal distribution of risk exposure is highly problematic. The students exposed to the highest amount of risk are also the ones least likely to get good jobs. If you want to understand the problem better, I’d suggest picking up John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice.