Chronicle of Higher Education on Failing Law Schools

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting article on responses to a forthcoming book I recently blogged about, Brian Tamanaha’s Failing Law Schools. The Chronicle article is behind a paywall, so to read it you need to click here and then click on the link.

The article includes this defense of the status quo from law prof Michael Olivas:

Michael A. Olivas, a professor of law at the University of Houston and a past president of the Association of American Law Schools, says relaxing accreditation standards to allow more-diverse education models, which Mr. Tamanaha calls for, could lead law schools in the direction of for-profit institutions like the University of Phoenix, which critics contend shortchange students.

As Mr. Olivas puts it, the result could be “the Phoenix-ation of law schools, churning students through, having a contingent and transient faculty, and none of the institutional investment in the broad roles of legal education.”

If so, what is wrong with that? Some law schools may follow that approach, but others won’t. And students ultimately will be the ones to decide which balance of approaches is best, as their decisions where to enroll will determine which schools remain viable. I don’t see why we wouldn’t want students to have that choice. “Institutional investment in the broad roles of legal education” is expensive. If students can get a good legal education without it, I don’t know why they shouldn’t be able to choose to do that.

Thanks to Brian Leiter for the link; Brian has his own thoughts here.