This past week Brian Tamahana posted an excellent opinion piece in The New York Times titled “How to Make Law School Affordable.” Tamahana, a law professor himself, understands the broken system of law school that sends so many would-be lawyers spiraling into student loan debt. For many students, bankruptcy starts to look like a dream after they face years of underemployment with the financial burden of a law degree resting on their shoulders.
What Can Be Done
For some law students, annual tuition is over $50,000 per year. The tuition (not to mention the fees associated with being a student) can be absurd. Tamahana points out that a large part of the problem is in the strict regulatory practices that govern over law education institutions. The strict governance practices are partially responsible for the high costs associated with law schools: maintaining expensive libraries and requiring the majority of teaching to be done by law professors on track for tenure.
These and other regulatory impositions require that law schools have a huge budget in order to maintain operations. Much of the cost is passed directly on to the student. On top of that, many students face extraordinary student loan debt because loans are so easy to obtain. Tamahana makes an insightful point when he suggests that academic institutions see the amount of money that their students can receive in the form of loans sharply curtailed. This curtailing should be directly related to the number of graduates who have not found suitable employment.
The fact that these loans can’t be discharged through bankruptcy makes them all the more alarming. Tamahana brings up many strong points in regard to student loan debt. Something has to be done, and something has to be done quick!