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Sapere aude - dare to be wise
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Too Many Law Schools
Posted 6:17 PM by Joshua Claybourn
Inside Higher Education reports on the increase in the number of law schools over the past few years.
There is no shortage of jokes about the United States having too many lawyers. If there are any corollaries about law schools, the punch lines are falling on deaf ears at a host of institutions that have plans to open law schools.

Since 2003, at least seven new law schools have opened, and several more are on the way, including three that were announced this month at Drexel and Elon Universities and Mills College. Officials at some of those institutions said the new law schools are not just adding more desks, but will fill particular niches. Student demand suggests that the new schools are welcomed. . . .

John A. Sebert, the consultant on legal education to the American Bar Association, said that new law schools have generally been started by for-profit or religious institutions, or in states that perceive a dearth of lawyers. Liberty University School of Law, which opened in 2004, is one of the young religiously affiliated schools. On the blog of Bruce W. Green, the dean of the Liberty law school, the April 8, 2003 entry points out that the opening of law schools has not kept pace with population growth.

Still, some people, and not just bankers in need of lawyer jokes, wish there were less need to open more law schools.

Robert J. D’Agostino, a professor at the John Marshall Law School, thinks that, while the job market may suggest a need for more lawyers, an unfortunate trend of lawyers and judges effectively “becoming legislators,” he said, is pushing the need for more lawyers.

D’Agostino pointed to high profile class action suits – often against gun and cigarette manufacturers – where lawyers have “attempted to legislate by running companies out of business. It’s expanding tort law to blend into the legislative arena,” he said. “We had to have the vaccine companies threaten to pull out of the country” before the government stepped in, he said, referring to cases in which a small number of people adversely affected by a useful vaccine stood to win massive amounts of money in court.

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