Law Schools Cause Tuition Increases, not ABA
Download PDF
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

David Segal released a new piece on problems that law schools face in the New York Times. His piece is titled ‘For Law Schools, a Price to Play the A.B.A.’s Way.’ Segal places the blame for tuition increases on the accreditation regime of the American Bar Association. Segal writes the following:

“In 1995 . . . the Department of Justice in an antitrust suit . . . charged that A.B.A. standards had artificially inflated faculty salaries. The A.B.A. signed a consent decree, agreeing to a number of strictures intended to pry the process out of the hands of legal academics and end the fixing of salaries.


Since then, the cost of law school tuition has soared, though at the high end, those prices are not the fault of the A.B.A. They are attributable to the prestige race prompted by U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of law schools, along with the wide availability of student loans.”

The Am Law Daily believes that Segal is attempting to make three claims and they include the following:

The first is that law school tuition increased over the inflation rate because of the consent decree. The second is that tuition increases that occur at highly regarded law schools are caused by rankings released by U.S. News and the Federal Direct Student Loan Program. The third is that tuition increases at schools not highly regarded by U.S. News occurs because of standards set forth by the ABA.

Get JD Journal in Your Mail

Subscribe to our FREE daily news alerts and get the latest updates on the most happening events in the legal, business, and celebrity world. You also get your daily dose of humor and entertainment!!

The first claim can be shot down pretty quickly because there is no known link between the consent decree and tuition increases. Check out the graph below for law school tuition since the decade of the 1980s from the ABA and the CPI.

The claim regarding tuition increase caused by U.S. News can be substantiated because the U.S. News ranks law schools based on their spending, and in turn, charging more money. There is a problem with this though; because of the struggling economy, applicants will still flock to law schools and graduate programs to avoid the job market.

The third claim is not substantiated by Segal because he does not show which of the accreditation standards cause tuition increases in schools across the country. ABA standards require three years, large libraries, and plenty of full-time instructors. Full-time faculty members must be paid a living wage because they cannot work anywhere else. Should the ABA remove this requirement, law schools will be forced to hire more adjunct professors, who cost the school less money to employ.

Low-end law schools dispute the claim that the ABA forces them to increase their tuition each year. That is backed up by New England School of Law dean John O’Brien, who claims that salaries, not accreditation, increase the costs of his law school:

“The argument for high salaries has always been that law professors could earn even more money at a law firm. As for tenure, one oft-cited reason for requiring it is that the most sought-after talent demands it, putting a school that doesn’t offer tenure at a disadvantage.

‘I need to get the best teachers out there,’ says Mr. O’Brien, the [ABA Section of Legal Education] chairman, ‘and the fact of the matter is that in order to do that, to compete for top-quality faculty, I have to offer tenure.’ ”


Interesting Legal Sites You May Like




Search Now

General Municipal Law Attorney with land use experience


Oakland office of our client seeks general municipal law attorney with experience advising public ag...

Apply Now

Senior Land Use Attorney with experience

USA-CA-San Francisco

San Francisco office of our client seeks senior land use attorney with 7+ years of experience. The c...

Apply Now

Immigration Attorney with portable business


McLean office is seeking an immigration attorney with $500,000+ in portable business.

Apply Now

Attorney with 1-2 years of business immigration experience


Chicago office of our client seeks attorney with 1-2 years of business immigration experience. The c...

Apply Now




Boutique East Bay litigation defense firm is seeking a junior to mid-level attorney. Candidates for ...

Apply now

Managing Director, Litigation Finance Investments


Title                ...

Apply now

Contract Associate


Seeking lawyer with at least 2 yrs experience in complex real estate transactional matters, with wil...

Apply now

Products Liability & Mass Tort Litigation Associate


The candidate must have 1- 5 years of civil litigation experience, preferably with some background i...

Apply now

Most Popular


To Top