UA Assistant Law Dean Defends Against Critics Who See Law School As 'Scam'

Applications to law school are on track to reach a 30-year low, according to

Cost of earning a law degree is on the rise. Jobs worth taking are declining.

Critics of law school, include law professors. One has gone so far to call the system a “scam.”

Steve Sheppard, associate dean for research and faculty development at University of Arkansas School of Law, doesn’t like the "scam" label. In an email sent to he defends the notion that law school as a valuable investment for students and says criticism — especially from law professors — is the reason for declining student interest.

The decline in law school applications is as easily explained (and perhaps more accurately explained) by the drumbeat of criticism than by the economics of education or legal employment. This criticism has been initiated by unhappy law students, drop-outs, and graduates, along with critics in the law faculties who have their own axes to grind. It has been amplified by a press and blogosphere that is either not equipped to evaluate the criticism or happy to sell papers by flaming it.

Arkansas Business’ Mark Friedman looked at the difficulty some students are having find jobs in the June 4, 2012 issue. Some graduates across the country have gone so far as to sue the schools from which they earned their degrees, "charging they were misled about prospects for employment and salaries after they graduated."

Here’s more from Arkansas Business on Arkansas’ two law schools:

The good news for the class of 2011 law students from Arkansas’ two law schools is that close to two-thirds of them had a job as an attorney nine months after graduation.

That’s a faster absorption rate than for the class of 2010 (57.5 percent) or the class of 2009 (56.6 percent), according to statistics released by the state’s two law schools.

But a disturbing trend continued for the class of 2011. Both schools — the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock and the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville — reported increases in the number of graduates who were unemployed and seeking work nine months after they graduated.

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