I have rarely seen a critical competitive disadvantage set out as clearly and starkly as that.What this means is that just to survive, not to mention do well or even excel, Ohio’s law schools and those of Michigan, Western Pennsylvania, Indiana and Illinois must develop aggressive and powerful strategies that unfortunately most have shown no indications they are able or willing to do.Instead, in too many instances, law schools have become hotbeds of disagreement in which tenure track faculty work to hold on to the perquisites of their positions, too many deans act as if the conditions being experienced are temporary and cyclical, and Legal Writing and Clinical faculty work collectively to advance their own agendas and protect their employment positions. All this is predictable behavior of long-sheltered and privileged constituencies but it does not do much of anything to deal with the challenges.
There is also a “down the line” crisis being quietly created by law schools that are admitting and graduating students who are at best of marginal intellectual quality because they need the revenue those students represent—in part because many law schools are caught in a vicious circle of needing the tuition payments from lesser qualified students to fund the significant scholarships awarded the most highly credentialed applicants in an effort to sustain their “intellectual image”. The problem with this strategy is that “dumb is dumb” and one of the last things the legal profession and a stressed society needs is more stupid lawyers. We already have enough.
Source: Barnhizer, David, Competitive Data Trends for Great Lakes and Midwest Law Schools 2012-2015 (March 8, 2016). Cleveland-Marshall Legal Studies Paper No. 294. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2744854
This is a grim but true picture of the current state of legal education in the aftermath of the Crash of 2008. While the focus is on the Great Lakes and Mid West, the analysis will hold up for any region of the country. Legal education is going to be disrupted, it has been disrupted.