The Kaufman County Bar Association had a meeting last week, and… I missed it. I was in court in Ellis County. The topic of the day was the formation of a new UNT law school in Dallas. Here is UNT’s proposal.
I am torn on this proposal between self preservation/legal profession concerns and my usual libertarian ideals (let the market sort things out).
Concern #1- Supply and Demand.
Adding another 100-200 new attorneys annualy to DFW will decrease the cost of legal services (our salaries may go down). When you raise the supply of a good/service, ceterus parabus, the price will go down. No attorney is exited about that.
My libertarian/free market response- The market should set prices. The price of legal services shouldn’t be artificially raised by limiting supply. Established attorneys need to meet consumer demands, not rely on limited competition.
Concern #2- What kind of legal education will this be?
Not many new law schools begin with a reputation for quality. The public won’t be served if UNT is turning out low quality attorneys. Here is a great article from temporary attorney on the proliferation of “toilet” law schools.
My LFM response- The consumer should be able to choose whatever attorney they want. If they want an SMU, TWU, UNT or Harvard attorney that is up to the consumer.
Concern #3- Whither Texas Tech?–
My alma mater Texas Tech gets a lot of students from DFW who are looking for a public school option in legal education. Will students go to Lubbock if they have a public school option in Dallas?
My LFM response- Texas Tech will have to compete with UNT and offer a better product. Students can choose TTU or UNT on the merits.
Concern #4- Wage Slave Attorneys
UNT could end up producing attorneys with huge debt and bleak job prospects. These UNT law grads should read temporary attorney (headline; Recent Law Grads- $12 per hour) for insight on their possible future. It seems the main beneficiary of the student loan/law school trap are the law schools.
My LFM response- Prospective law students should be able to make an educated cost/benefit analysis concerning a legal education. The federal student loan program is largely to blame for runaway school costs by removing elasticity from law school tuition prices. That is, colleges can raise tuition ad naseum without suffering a loss in applicants only because the government has made cheap loans available. In turn, law students end up with crushing debt, and a law degree.
So, am I for or against the UNT proposal?
Neither, we could solve all of these problems by simply moving Texas Tech School of Law to Dallas! Not really an option at this point, but why not?