Balkinization  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Why UC Irvine Went Wrong: Chasing Prestige at the Expense of Public Service

Brian Tamanaha

Five years ago, when it was announced that UC Irvine would open a new law school, many critics asked why. With a surplus of law schools already, California had no need for another one. The justification offered was that Irvine would be different. “We have the chance to build something very special: the ideal law school for the 21st century,” said founding Dean Erwin Chemerinsky. “We have a wonderful opportunity in that we have a blank slate.” Irvine, he proclaimed, would be a law school oriented to public service. The school was given a great boost when a local businessman donated $20 million for the start-up.

In Failing Law Schools, for one critical reason I argue that, despite creating an excellent law school, UC Irvine went wrong: it is now among the most expensive law schools in the country (2012: $47,000 resident, $53,000 non-resident). When you add estimated annual living expenses of about $20,000, students will pay $200,000 for an Irvine law degree, and the average debt of the class of 2015 will exceed $100,000.

Students with debt that large are compelled by financial necessity to pursue corporate law jobs. Although public service jobs are eligible for a federal program that reduces monthly loan payments and forgives the remaining debt after 10 years, heavily indebted law students would take a huge risk to pass up a corporate law job, which is obtained though interviews in the fall of the second year, in the hope that they might later land a public service job, which is obtained near or after graduation.

Irvine law professors can saturate the atmosphere and curriculum with public service—it doesn’t matter. Irvine students will be forced to work in corporate law—and the many students who don’t land these positions will struggle under a huge debt. That is the reality of it. The “public service” goal was doomed, I argue in the book, by Dean Chemerinsky’s determination to create a "top 20" law school right out of the box. To achieve this goal, he recruited law professors from top law schools, who come at a high price.

An op-ed in the LA Times penned by Dean Chemerinsky in 2010 explains Irvine's high salary scale:
Over the last few weeks, I have negotiated salaries with superb professors we are attempting to recruit who are currently teaching at Harvard, Northwestern and Yale. The University of California must match their current salaries or they will not come. As much as I love living in Southern California, I could not have afforded to leave Duke University if it meant taking a substantial pay cut.
If you are recruiting against top law schools, you pay top dollar for professors. Publicly available UC salary records (ucpay.globl.org) reveal that Irvine law professors are very well compensated (two received gross compensation topping $300,000 in 2011). Under the current economic model of law schools, I wrote in the book, “affordability and elite status are mutually exclusive.”

Understandably upset by my critical comments about UCI, Dean Chemerinsky has made two recent rebuttals: “You Get What You Pay For in Legal Education” and “Law Prof’s Ideal, Affordable Law School Not Possible.” In neither response does he contest my assertion that UCI grads (class of 2015) will be forced by their debt burden to seek corporate law jobs regardless of a desire they might have to work in public service.

He insists that tuition must be in the $50,000 range if UCI is to land in the top 20. On that point, he and I agree. What Dean Chemerinsky does not explain, however, is why it was necessary to create a “top 20” law school. If that was the driving goal, then perhaps Irvine law school should not have been created. There are already about 25 law schools in the “top 20,” three of them in California.

Dean Chemerinsky knows a great deal more than I do about the economics of running a law school, but I am skeptical of his suggestion that there were only two options: create a “top 20” law school or a “fourth tier” law school. One way to have kept costs down with no significant loss in faculty talent would have been to recruit top professors from excellent law schools with a lower pay scale (Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, North Carolina, William & Mary, etc.) rather than from Harvard, Northwestern and Yale. But he went for the prestige.

Two final comments: First, there is something vaguely discomfiting about a law school that urges its students to engage in public service—which requires a significant financial sacrifice on their part—while professors are paid their market value; high professor pay adds to the debt burden, making public service work that much harder for graduates to manage. Although Irvine professors are fully entitled to earn market value, what results is in tension with their advocacy of public service.

My second comment relates to these statements, which Chemerinsky repeats for emphasis: “It’s not just monetary.” “[Tamanaha] looks at the value of a law degree in too much of monetary concerns.” A bunch of legal educators have criticized me for this. I hereby affirm that a law degree brings many non-monetary benefits—social status, knowledge, intrinsic pleasure, and more.

I set these aside in my analysis, not because I deny them, but because the non-monetary benefits of a law degree provide scant solace to the many law graduates today who are struggling under enormous debt. At a time when average law school debt exceeds $100,000, only 55% of graduates land full time jobs as lawyers, and the median salary is $60,000, it makes sense to focus exclusively on cost and monetary benefits.

Comments:

What exactly do you mean by "public service"? A lot of lawyers work for the government writing new laws, regulations or bringing enforcement actions, and then go into the private sector where they make a lot of money representing private clients with respect to the same issues. One might suspect that the "public service" has as much to do with the lawyer's future earning potential as with the interest of the public.
 

Some immediate counterpoints come to mind.

Dean Chemerinsky's effort has brought at least one of the most brilliant minds in modern government and political science to his new department. I am not familiar with the entire faculty of UCI Law. If my progeny were to have the privilege of studying with this above-referenced, unnamed, prof, the investment in that superb quality teaching would be worth the extra cost.

UCI's policies concerning financial assistance need to be part of the equation of valuing the new department. Are there ways besides blanket loans, for students there to finance education in the new department?

Viewing the Irvine campus in the historical spectrum, I was quite pleased at the time the new law faculty leadership was selected. Having an important modern mind guiding the department enriches the entire campus.

And bright kids will gravitate to UCI.

Also, these young people vote while in college. And that section of the state of California could benefit from the polity issuing from that sort of new votership.

There are many ways of viewing the positives in what UCI, and UCI Law individually, are accomplishing.

However, I admit, if I were selecting a law school now, I still would weigh factors like what the best competition offers at other law schools. My own selection criteria would include both the financial assistance available, and the esthetic existence in the community in which the school is located, as life beyond the campus is part of the experience of education.

Yet, perhaps I have perused too much of the comedic law writer Lithwick! A renowned paragraph that D Lithwick wrote begins, "I had, for the first six months of law school, only one vector. I traveled from the dorms to the law school. After breakfast in the dorms I went to class in the law library, and from there I went to dinner in the dorms, which led inexorably to an evening in the law library." The rest of DL's essay is there:

http://www.slate.com/id/2069512

from an article published in 2002.
 

If things are as bad as Prof. Tamanaha says,

"Students with debt that large are compelled by financial necessity to pursue corporate law jobs. Although public service jobs are eligible for a federal program that reduces monthly loan payments and forgives the remaining debt after 10 years, heavily indebted law students would take a huge risk to pass up a corporate law job, which is obtained though interviews in the fall of the second year, in the hope that they might later land a public service job, which is obtained near or after graduation."

then the prudent law student will turn down the inadequate corporate law job and wait to land the public service job that will trigger the loan forgiveness. Graduating from a top-20 law school will make that prospective public servant all that more attractive to public service employers. If Irvine manages to turn out a generation of bright legal aid lawyers, more power to it.
 

The loan forgiveness is for federal loans only. It doesn't cover private loans, which make up about 80% of my loans.

As a public interest lawyer making 50k a year 5 years out of law school, I simply can't afford to raise my 2-year old son at this salary when half of my after-tax income goes to loan payments and the other half to health insurance.

Working for cause is its own reward, and I don't want or need many things. And I freely chose to sacrifice comfortable life to work at this job. And my wife married me knowing fully well all the sacrifices demanded of my job.

With my son in the picture, however, I don't think I can be in public interest any more. I should have known that only well-paid attorneys and law professors can afford to have a child.

No, I don't believe that having my son was a mistake. But thinking that I could make little money working for some just cause and have a "normal" life was.
 

I have believed for a while that UCI is doomed because they are chasing the same dragons as everyone else. They are assuming that the employment they need to place their class into is biglaw and prestigious PI and government, and have arranged the school in order to meet those goals. In order to do this, they need a high caliber of student, driven by a high investment in the USNWR factors, which requires a high tuition. While this may have been more successful in 2005, students are much more price sensitive now, and those high-160 students UCI needs to debut as a top 20 school are choosing to go to lower ranked schools on full scholarship or, in many cases, forgo law school altogether. Unfortunately, UCI needs much higher revenues that it is getting to maintain their expenses. They will have to increase class size and tuition. It is much easier for UCI faculty members to place 60 students with T14 numbers than 200 students with T30 numbers. The market does not need another 50K per year T40 school.

CUNY Law provides a low-cost, public school legal education for about 13K in tuition per year. CUNY makes no bones about the kind of school it wants to be. They are a public sector school whose graduates are chasing kinds of public sector employment that it is reasonable for students outside the top 10 schools to chase. Not federal government honors programs or the ACLU fellowships, but DAs, PDs, local government, direct legal services, trial court clerkships. Not something the pedigreed faculty would consider "prestigious" but real lawyer work for real people. If they don't get those jobs, their debt loads make it easier to take low paid private sector employment in practice areas serving the middle and lower middle classes, such as immigration, criminal law, consumer debt, etc.

So, a smart plan would have been to set tuition low enough to graduate students with 50K of debt. You target students with demonstrated public interest backgrounds. You hire adjuncts from small and medium sized firms as well as DA and PD offices. Your career services department reaches out to local firms to place students in internships or law clerkships during the year. Then, you've created a true public interest school.
 

In trying to build a Law School for the 21st Century - Chemerinsky built a law school for the 20th Century.

It is failure of imagination and wasted opportunity for REAL innovation in legal education.

Starting from scratch with a strong brand like UC-Irvine he tried (or ended up) building a liberal arts style law school rather than the polytechnic law school that is needed in the 21st Century.

At its core, the goal of a professional school is training students for success in professional careers in the relevant employment market. That starts with providing the sort of theoretical + skills training that can help them land JOBS.

The market simply did not need another Swarthmore Style School of Law -- it needed an MIT School of Law.

Note: Please dont give me the whole "practice v. theory" debate - it is tiresome and not applicable. Why ? - because no one would accuse MIT of not be a place where theory is taught. The question is what theory folks actually need to learn to be successful professionals.

Probably less Foucault and more Claude Shannon :)

See more of my thoughts on this questions here:

http://computationallegalstudies.com/2011/10/13/the-mit-school-of-law-a-perspective-on-legal-education-in-the-21st-century-presentation-slides-version-1-01/

Best,
Daniel Martin Katz
 

Your contents are too simple to read and easy to understand.
continue reading this
 

Brian,

He does answer why it was necessary to create a top 20 law school. He says it was necessary to get students jobs.

My guess is you don't deny that, as a descriptive matter, he did what he had to do to create a school that gets most of its students good law jobs. Your point is a prescriptive one--that it would be better if we didn't pay faculty so much, since then a top school would cost students less.

I agree. I think $300,000 is far too much to pay a law professor. (I am a professor and I make 1/3 of that.) But how do we change the market for top professors?


 

Hurrah! It's about time for publication of an erudite and well argued yet accessible book that connects the dots from our overly revered Constitution to the political gridlock of the moment. And, I'm so glad that Levinson is spreading the word about his latest contribution.v-checker scanner
 

Dean Chemerinsky's rebuttal depends on the false--but widely accepted--assumption that the quality of legal education is determined by two things: (1) the frequency of citation in law review articles of other articles written by a school's faculty in a marketplace whose only consumers are authors scrambling to get published--and cited--themselves; and (2) the test-taking skills of the students it admits or, to be more precise, the high level of test-taking skills of those to whom it can refuse admission.
The Dean's desire to move legal education toward preparing students for practice and emphasizing public service is commendable, but he has drunk the Kool-Aid that drains the life out of real reform.

 

you have to discover what the actual celebration guidelines tend to be and find out exactly what clothes signal is actually, which can make a person conscious of the actual celebration put on you'll want to prevent putting on cocktail dress, instead of put on. The majority of the college managers arrange graduating events which are the official in order to semi-formal. Nevertheless, most of them aren't as well rigid concerning the gown signal. Instead of putting on athletic shoes as well as denim jeans, you need to put on something which appears absolutely womanly as well as stylish.
 

HD kaliteli porno izle ve boşal.
Bayan porno izleme sitesi.
Bedava ve ücretsiz porno izle size gelsin.
Liseli kızların ve Türbanlı ateşli hatunların sikiş filmlerini izle.
Siyah karanlık odada porno yapan evli çift.
harika Duvar Kağıtları bunlar
tamamen ithal duvar kağıdı olanlar var
 

Just when it looked like Microsoft's vision of your buy cheap adobe photoshop cs6 Pc as the center in the tech planet would lead to the creation from the world's initially trillion-dollar firm, the net came office 2010 professional plus key along. And it washed over the Computer business like a tidal wave swallowing a pond.
 

Comments:

"Over the last few weeks, I have negotiated salaries with superb professors we are attempting to recruit who are currently teaching at Harvard, Northwestern and Yale. The University of California must match their current salaries or they will not come. As much as I love living in Southern California, I could not have afforded to leave Duke University if it meant taking a substantial pay cut."

(1) At this point, *any* statement by a law school dean is assumed to be BS until proven otherwise. Note that he didn't say that they were *tenured* at any of those universities. A one-year VAP, even at an elite university, will be desperate for a job, any job.

(2) As has been pointed out, he has not explained how UCI will function in a world where the other similar UC system law schools are in deep trouble.

(3) Mark Regan - your comment ignores the text that you quote. The prudent student, in the current world, will take what he/she can get.

(4) Unknown: "
My guess is you don't deny that, as a descriptive matter, he did what he had to do to create a school that gets most of its students good law jobs. Your point is a prescriptive one--that it would be better if we didn't pay faculty so much, since then a top school would cost students less. "

No, he didn't. Most of the students will not get good law jobs; given the circumstances, it's likely that ~50% will get *any* law job, and 10% will get a law job which gives them a chance of paying off the debt.
This has been covered again and again and again, here and elsewhere.


 

Post a Comment

Home