Between the day that I was first enrolled in law school and today, the price of tuition has jumped about $400.00 per semester hour. It already started climbing quite a bit when I was there, and the attitude of certain individuals was that the market could bear that price. This person viewed it the same as if you wanted to buy an autographed football or an original Warhol. After all, a law degree works in exactly the same way. You shell out $100,000.00 and voila! You are an attorney.
However, I have recently discovered something interesting.
The bar passage rate went down in the ensuing years.
That was the first clue that something was going wrong, and so I looked at the admission stats and found out that the median LSAT scores for the current class are also lower than when I attended.
Some people might have theories about why this has occurred, but let me tell you speak the truth on this matter and say that if you aren't Harvard or Yale law, there is a point where a so-so candidate (which is what my school was already attracting) is going to look at the price tag versus the employment prospects and run like the wind and just not attend law school all together. The majority of people left are the ones that are too dumb to do the math, people whose post-undergrad job prospects are already crap, people who don't want to go into the real world, dreamers, and people that view law school as some sort of finishing school where they can kill another 3+ years (usually more than the standard three because they usually end up flunking quite a bit) before they go work at the family business.
Naturally, this doesn't mean that if a person falls into one of the above categories that they must necessarily have worse GPAs and LSAT scores, but consider this:
If, the overall experience of going to law school was--oh, let's say--about $30,000.00 cheaper than what it is now, and the employment prospects afterwards were better, the school would have a larger pool of competitive candidates. This doesn't necessarily mean that they are competitive to the point that they would have been accepted at better schools. Instead, their profiles mean that they would be better candidates for keeping up with the coursework and passing the bar afterward. However, the slightly more competitive candidates have better employment prospects and better graduate school options. Plus, they are apparently smarter at crunching the numbers and keeping up with current events to where they realize that even if they do graduate with a law degree that the worst of it is still yet to come.
Unlike medical school that has residency programs, you are on your own unless you are connected or find a job afterward. If you cannot find a generous individual to mentor you, then you have flushed thousands down the tube. A few years ago, these people would have been absorbed into the public sector or legal aid, but those prospects are GONE.
Therefore, while there are still going to be a few dreamers and people who think they can do this if someone gave them a shot, one cannot help but think that if the school is attracting people who are not worried about their debt load and employment prospects at the end of the day that this is also playing out in the end result because they probably are not going to study that hard when it comes time to take the bar.