Blog: The Educated Reporter

Should It Pay to Drop Out of Law School?

Over on, two Yale law professors are urging their school to pay students to give up their pursuit of the profession. Too many students are graduating with enormous debt they have little chance of ever repaying — and the law schools know it, the professors say.

The Slate opinion piece makes some interesting arguments, including looking to for inspiration. The professors note that after the online shopping behemoth finishes training new employees, the company offers them $3,000 to quit. This pitch helps them weed out workers who are more interested in the short-term payoff than building a long-term career with the company. Law schools would be wise to employ a similar “loyalty” test, according to the Slate piece.

(Full disclosure: The Zappos headquarters used to be next door to my office at the Las Vegas Sun. When they had their frequent costume parades in the parking lot or the gourmet burger truck paid a call, my colleagues and I would gather at our windows to heckle their happy-workplace doings.)

In addition to their innovative suggestions for thinning the herd, Professors Akhil Reed Amar and Ian Ayres believe that for students who received federal loans, law schools should publish the salaries of graduates for the first 10 years of their careers. Doing so will give prospective students more realistic expectations for their own income trajectories, the professors argue.

Their position echoes a recurring theme in the current debate over the future of higher education: Students are consumers, and there needs to be more transparency as to exactly what you “buy” when you pursue a college or graduate degree. I would say that’s the case for all professional programs, not just the aspiring lawyers.

For another take on the challenges of a legal education, check out this New York Times piece over the weekend about how law schools are leaving it up to the firms to teach their new hires the actual business of “lawyering”.