Bernie Burk on the shrinking dominion of law schools

And Bernie Burk is one of the more hopeful writers on the law school crisis:

Judging from the oversupply revealed by the employment numbers gathered and disseminated by the ABA Section on Legal Education, my relatively unscientific guess is that we can expect the number of seats in accredited law schools to shrink somewhere between 20% and 40% from its high in the class entering in the fall of 2010.  My equally unscientific guess is that we can expect to see the reduction fairly quickly (on an academic timescale)—perhaps within the next 3-5 years.

This correction, which is obviously substantial, will create more dislocation and hardship.  That is deeply regrettable.  Students at institutions forced to close will have their studies disrupted, and perhaps terminated (with concomitant loss of their investment) if they cannot find an institution willing to accept them as transfers.  The faculty and staff of those failed institutions will lose their jobs, and finding similar jobs elsewhere will be very difficult as many of the schools remaining downsize their own faculty and staff to serve reduced student bodies.  (The difficulties I am hearing about from very accomplished and talented applicants for law-teaching jobs this year are just a small harbinger of things to come.)  Schools that choose to compete by reducing price, either by selective awards of financial aid that allow them to price-discriminate more effectively, or by reducing nominal tuition rates across the board, will undoubtedly require their faculties to teach more and get paid less….

Those in the Schadenfreude brigade who take some joy in these prospects should be ashamed.  When markets contract, many people suffer.  But is this the end of the world as we know it?  Is “the system” going to “collapse”?  Don’t be ridiculous.

It is well worth reading the whole thing.

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