I want to respond here to several thoughtful posts about Bottlenecks: A New Theory of Equal Opportunity from participants in this symposium, each of which applies the theory to a novel domain: legal education, health, and the whole field of economic policy that affects wage inequality.
So let’s start with legal education.
Lea Shaver, in one of her posts, focuses on bottlenecks in legal education: to become a lawyer, you need a good LSAT score, a fair amount of money (borrowed or otherwise), and you need to pass the bar exam. At most schools, you also need to go to school during the day, precluding other work and life obligations. I basically agree with all of this. The LSAT is similar in many ways to the SAT, although in my view, as a bottleneck it is by far the less problematic of the two. Why? Because if you can’t score well on the LSAT, the only career path you’re locked out of is law, whereas if you can’t score well on the more general SAT, a very large swath of all careers may be closed to you (although some alternative routes exist).
From the point of view of opportunity pluralism, the largest question I’d ask about the current structure of legal education is: Why is it so uniform? Why do all law schools appear to be using basically the same criteria, and chasing the same students, with increasingly finely-calibrated scholarship-based pricing? More radically, why is nobody pursuing models of legal education that are smaller-scale (and quicker and cheaper) than a JD, yet offer graduates the opportunity to provide some more limited set of legal services? (These also could function as Lea’s intriguing suggestion: programs that partially feed into JD programs, the way community college programs partially feed in to 4-year college programs.) What’s stopping this sort of thing? Read More