November 19, 2009
Big State Law School?
Posted by Usha Rodrigues

I've been enjoying Erik's posts, particularly his back-and-forth with Larry (and apparently much of the blawgosphere) on the fate of the Big Law School.  Focusing on what's important, I can't help wondering how the impending cataclysmic change in legal academe will affect...well, me.  And I can't help thinking that State Law might be a big winner in the Great Big Law Fallout. 

Take Georgia Law.   If the problem is, as Erik writes, that the business model of Big Law School depends on students getting high paying law firm jobs to pay off high law school tuition, well Georgia's in-state tuition is $14,448 per year.  Out of state is twice as much, but you generally qualify for in-state tuition after your first year.  We're certainly talking about debt, but not the level of debt that hinges on earning a Big Law salary straight out of school.

Also, our identity is resolutely Georgian.  Yes, we send our graduates to DC, Chicago, New York, and the West Coast.  And we're proud of having had Supreme Court clerks 4 out of the past 5 years, and of our success in placing graduates on the teaching market.  But while many of our graduates work in Big Law in Atlanta or Charlotte, most don't.  Students generally come here because we train the future state legislators, judges, and governors of Georgia.  They come because they want to be prosecutors or public defenders, or practitioners at small or medium-sized firms, and they know they'll get a great education at a great price.  I don't see Big Law's demise changing that, except to make State Law look like even more of a value proposition.

Or maybe I'm just on the Titanic's lido deck, enjoying a glass of bubbly.  At least the view's good.

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