Monday, May 20, 2013

Memo to Paul McGreal: The Wall Street Journal is Not the Place for Truth

The Wall Street Journal has an article about law schools expanding their offerings to cater to professionals who want a taste of law without the full meal. It's a noble gesture that basically lets DIYers justify not hiring a compliance attorney. That's called meeting public demand and it's a staple of free market capitalism, which is the system that runs law schools, of course.

In the middle of the article, Paul McGreal, dean of Dayton, Ohio's best law school, lets the following slip:

"Adding new degree programs is like a company diversifying its product lines. If demand for one sags, you've still got alternative sources of revenue coming in," said Paul McGreal, dean of the University of Dayton School of Law, which now offers master's degrees for nonlawyers and practicing attorneys alike.


Paul, repeat after me: off the record. If you want to speak honestly about the law school business model, go off the record.

Because - repeat this, too, as if talking advertising for a funeral home - law schools are not an ordinary business. They train the next generation of attorneys for the higher calling that is the legal profession. We exist for the public good and therefore do not think in terms of revenue. As a non-profit, our goal is to continually serve the legal community. Recently, we've found that many working professionals simply have the thirst to learn the law, but don't have the time or need for a full JD or LLM program. We've thus decided to meet the community need by offering these additional classes, the cost of which reflects the reality of modern, expensive education with computers 'n' such.

We don't talk about "product lines" and "alternative sources of revenue" to major newspapers, Paul. We talk about serving the public.

Like this:

At Emory, Dean Robert Schapiro played down the role additional revenue might have had in setting up the new program, which he said was a response to "strong" demand for legal education in the broader population and outside the U.S. The 40 or so students in Emory's program include physicians, a dentist, a sports-communications staffer at CNN, an environmental-consulting executive and a South Korean patent judge.

See, Paul? CNN staffers, consulting executives, and foreign patent judges! Same jobs your graduates can fill with their versatile JDs!

THAT'S why you put in those programs at Dayton. Not because you want additional revenue streams. Good God, man! Have some decorum!

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