Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bad news for our society: PUBLIC law schools becoming unaffordable

In a recent interview, Kevin R. Johnson, dean of the University of California, Davis School of Law, said, "I fear, given the fees our law students are being charged, [that] affordable public legal education is no longer in existence."

The University of California, Davis School of Law, is not alone in its struggle to provide affordable legal education. As a result of state budget issues and the disappearance of solid endowments, tuition hikes are occurring at University of Indiana's Maurer School of Law (costs will be 25% higher), University of Texas School of Law (16% for residents and 11% for non-residents) , and the University of Colorado School of Law (depending upon your status and state residency, tuition is rising between 12% to 20%). That's just to name a few.

While this news isn't necessarily surprising for those of us who are aware of tuition hikes, it's nevertheless frightening. After all, this country's foundations rest upon law. It's a central theme to the concepts we as Americans take pride in (equality and justice for all, etc.). Moreover, our current president is (thankfully) an expert on Constitutional Law. For 12 years Obama lectured on various aspects relating to law at the University of Chicago (my alma mater).

If law schools for the public cease to be affordable, what are the cultural and political repercussions of that?

Regardless of the lawyer jokes (head's up: not all lawyers are out to swindle you or your neighbor. In fact there's a large contingent of them who fight for our rights), this issue is no laughing matter. The significance of law (in both practice and theory) is hallowed in this country. If it disappears, we are heading down a dangerous path.

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