Law school applications are at a 30-year low. There are twice as many law school graduates as there are open positions for lawyers. We should be shutting down law schools, but in a classic example of collective action problems at work there are a slew of universities on the verge of opening new law schools. As the WSJ reported today:
Indiana Tech's new law school in Fort Wayne will be the state's fifth when it opens this fall. The law school the University of North Texas plans to open in Dallas next year will be just down the road from Southern Methodist University's Dedman School of Law, and less than an hour's drive from one in Fort Worth that Texas A&M University is in the process of buying from Texas Wesleyan University, one of nine in the state. ,,,
19 new schools [got the] ABA's stamp of approval since 2000, and more on deck. New schools are popping up in states with rising populations like Florida, California and Texas, said Barry Currier, a former law-school professor who is the ABA's interim consultant on legal education.
These universities are doing the profession and their future students a major disservice. At the end of the day, however, I blame the ABA. On the one hand, the ABA and state bars are the driving force behind restrictions on entry to the legal profession and barriers to competition in the provision of legal services. In the absence of such restrictions, the price of legal servces would fall and the demand would increase. Both law school graduates and non-lawyers would have more job opportunities. On the other hand, the ABA is too scared of antitrust litigation to refuse to sanction new law schools on grounds that the country already has too many law schools.