Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Costs of Legal Education: How Much Does a Law Review Article Cost?

A recurring theme in discussions of legal education is the excessive cost associated with the traditional law school model. Here's the latest example:

What is the total cost of a law review article written by a tenured professor at a top-flight law school?

It's in the neighborhood of $100,000, according to Hofstra University School of Law professor Richard Neumann. His estimate factors in the salary and benefits for a tenured professor at a high-paying school who spends between 30% and 50% of his or her time on scholarship and publishes one article per year.


Neumann also pointed to research suggesting that 43% of law review articles are never cited by anyone. "At least a third of these things have no value," he said. "Who is paying for that? Students who will graduate with six figures of debt."


New York Law School Dean Rick Matasar urged legal educators to consider the possibility of new, lower-cost law schools that rely heavily on untenured faculty and adjuncts to teach rather than write law review articles.

"Students are saying, ‘I don't want to pay for it anymore,' " he said.

Of course, I am not about to discount the value of good scholarship (see here and here). I think it's essential, and should be part of the mission of a Christian law school, of Christian law professors, and yes, of Christian attorneys. (See, for example, David Skeel's plea for Christian legal scholarship here.) Should professors be paid enough to be able to pursue scholarship? Yes. But should students have to cover the cost of $100,000 law review articles that no one reads? That just isn't a sustainable economic model.