Too many law schools?

Mark Greenbaum, a Washington, D.C. attorney, has been widely quoted over the past week for an opinion column he wrote in the Los Angeles Times where he asserts there are too many law schools.

He argues that the ABA is too lax in its accreditation, and that the Federal government should take steps to “stop the rapid flow of attorneys into the marketplace.”

Greenbaum does not seem to know the history of the ABA and its accreditation battles. Not too long ago, critics were calling for the Federal government to step in because the ABA was too strict in allowing new schools.

Now, in 15 years, it seems the pendulum has swung completely the other way.

But in reality, it is just perception that has swung the other way. When we look at the legal profession within the lens of the current economic recession, it seems foolish to go to law school. But then again, it also seems foolish to become an architect. But few people would argue that the construction industry will rebound. And the legal profession is also expected to grow long-term.

Greenbaum does makes some insightful comments about the rising cost of tuition and debt, and poses an important question in regards to whether law schools have misled prospective students with employment and salary data.

But his assertion that we need the Federal government to protect us from ourselves, is a little too Socialist in nature for me. What he seems to want the ABA to do —to restrict the number of law schools so as to limit the number of attorneys — is exactly what the Clinton Justice Department found to be illegal. 

The ABA almost lost their accreditation powers because of that. I hardly think that is now the solution.