Some of our blog posts offer useful information. This isn’t one of them. Here I’d like to pose several open-ended questions. Who is responsible for you to be employed after law school? You? Your law school?
According to recent reports, Brooklyn Law School has instituted a refund program for graduates that are unemployed after graduating (there are caveats, of course – we are dealing with lawyers). If a student is actively looking, working with career services and has taken the bar, then a student could earn up to a $19,000 refund on their tuition. The school has budgeted for 10% of their students to receive a refund. Other law schools will, no doubt, follow suit.
Students pay well over $40k/year to law schools expecting that they will be marketable when they graduate, but should the law school bear the financial risk if the student is unemployed? If they are budgeting for one in ten students to be unemployed, are the other students subsidizing this program? Is that fair?
What type of message does this program send to a student? Does it say that they are commodities or fungible products? Is one law school graduate interchangeable with another? Of course not. Employers want a particular student: the top student… the one with charisma… the one they can put in front of clients. A simple law school diploma shouldn’t make someone immediately employable.
Shouldn’t the law student take responsibility for themselves? If they don’t work well with others, if they are poor at standardized tests, if they interview poorly – then should the law school have to pay them back their tuition?
On the other hand, if the student is “sold” on the fact that s/he will be employable when they graduate (as every law school does) then shouldn’t the student be entitled to negotiate a discounted rate if that doesn’t hold true?
These are questions that we will see play out in the legal market over the next few years as both potential students, employers and law school get more savvy in the marketplace. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and how it affects the job market.
What do you think? Let us know with a comment or an email.
One article related to Brooklyn law’s program can be found here: http://money.cnn.com/2015/07/13/news/brooklyn-law-school-tuition-refund/index.html