Friday, August 20, 2010

"Best Value" in Legal Education

An ABA Journal article listing National Jurist's "best value" ranking for law schools has attracted some interesting comments from attorneys about the value of legal education, the weight of debt, and the disconnect between perceived earning potential and real-world experience:

Magazine Names Best Value in Law Schools

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Good News in Minnesota

The effort to open the Minnesota Bar to attorneys from non-ABA schools has led to a favorable decision from the MN Supreme Court. Here's the report from the MinnLawyer Blog:

The court ordered the Minnesota Board of Law Examiners to draft a rule allowing an attorney licensed in another state to sit for the Minnesota bar exam without having graduated from an ABA-approved law school.

The order was in response to a petition, filed with the court on April 29, 2009, seeking such an amendment to Rule 4A(3) of the Rules for Admission to the Bar. In its Aug. 10, 2009, the court ordered the board to examine the issues raised by the petition and to submit a report to the court. The board filed its report on June 2, 2010.

After reviewing the submission, the Supreme Court determined that it will consider a rule amendment that would permit a licensed attorney who has successfully practiced law in another U.S. jurisdiction for a substantial number of years to sit for the Minnesota bar exam and, if successful and otherwise qualified, to be admitted to the Minnesota Bar, notwithstanding the fact that the attorney had not graduated from an ABA-approved law school.

The court ordered the board to file the proposed rule amendment with the court on or before Sept. 30, 2010. The amendment will then be scheduled for public comment and hearing.

In the struggle against the ABA monopoly, this is an exciting victory. But the battle's not over. There are some things still to do in the coming weeks.

1. Pray. Thank God for opening this door and pray for wisdom and discernment for Dean Magnuson and others who are working with the MN Supreme Court on the rule amendment. Also pray that this action by the MN Supreme Court would influence other jurisdictions to consider exceptions to ABA restrictions.

2. Participate. I was able to talk to Dean Magnuson immediately after he heard about the ruling. He is eager for OBCL alumni to submit public comments once the forum becomes available.

Praise God for the opportunity for a fair hearing in Minnesota! We'll keep you posted...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Alumni in the News VII - Continued

Matt McReynolds made the front page of the Sacramento Bee for successfully defending a pastor's first amendment right to share his faith.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Alumni in the News VII

Oak Brooker Timmy Teepell is mentioned in Sports Illustrated. Governor Jindal signs into a law a bill to allow homeschoolers to participate in public school athletic activities and says that it should be called the “Timmy Teepell” bill. Take that, Timmy Tebow!

Carrying on the Oak Brookers and sports theme, Mike Reitz of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation helps interview
Pete Carroll, former USC coach and current coach of the Seattle Seahawks on a local radio show.

Mike Reitz and Jonathan Bechtle discuss, among other things, if free speech applies to honking your horn in their entertaining monthly podcast.

Meredith Turney writes in Townhall on Milton Friedman’s enduring legacy.

Bryan Tyson bravely tries to make boring Georgia Supreme Court cases interesting on the Georgia Supreme Court blog.

Write Mark Bigger at on interesting stories involving Oak Brook grads or students.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Outsourcing lawyers?

"Where have all the lawyers gone?," Larry Ribstein asks in a recent Forbes article. His answer: "To India." Ribstein predicts that the international competition will force the American bar to change the way it does things.

"The licensing requirement restricts the supply of lawyers in the U.S. and, of course, raises the price. Even lawyers performing the most routine services must pay $100,000 or so for a legal education, plus three years of their time and thousands for a bar exam and bar review course. No wonder legal services are priced out of the reach of much of America even as legal regulation plays an increasing role in our lives.

"In the long run, for better or worse, this regulatory structure will not survive global competition. It is threatened not only by India and other outsourcing venues, but also by loosening restrictions on law practice in the U.K., Europe and Australia, which now has the first publicly traded law firm. Hedge funds already are providing outside financing for litigation. The capital markets offer the legal services industry a glittering pile of cash for remodeling. Even lawyers must see that licensing laws keep them from competing in the world that is rather than protecting them from competition in the world that was."

This has important implications for legal education as well. The legal academy nationwide will be forced to investigate new methodologies that cut costs without sacrificing quality, and I imagine that distance learning will come to play an increasingly important role.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

More on the cost of legal education

A recent study sponsored by the ABA raises a number of concerns with the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings. Their number one concern was the cost in legal education:

The current methodology tends to increase the costs of legal education for students. As a recent study by the United States Government Accountability Office has suggested, the U.S. News methodology arguably punishes a school that provides a high quality education at an affordable cost. Because low-cost law schools report a lower expenditure per student than higher cost schools, it is difficult for low tuition schools to top the rankings. A school that works hard to hold down costs may indeed find itself falling in the rankings relative to a peer that increases tuition above the rate of inflation each year.

U.S. News responded to the criticism by pointing out that rising costs can be blamed on the still-rising demand for legal education: “Concerning law school tuition costs, . . . there's basic economics of demand being greater than supply, which is one key reason why law schools can keep raising their tuition.” U.S. News adds: “[I]t's very easy for the ABA and law school academics to blame U.S. News for many of the negative practices at law schools. Law schools and the ABA need to take far more direct responsibility for these trends.”

Whoever is to blame – and there would seem to be enough for everyone to share – it’s probably beyond controversy that law school in the U.S. is excessively expensive. Many law students who graduate and face the difficult legal job market are tens of thousands of dollars in debt. While I would be the last person to say that you should choose a law school based on cost alone, we have to acknowledge that the cost of law school is an important factor to weigh when evaluating your options. On this point, you would be very hard pressed to top Oak Brook College of Law (see this previous post).