Drop Out of Law School Loophole

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A new idea may provide a lifeline for law school students.

Law schools can falsely boost placement statistics by employing their own alumni for short-term jobs–a deck-stacking tactic that has many recent grads feeling deceived by their own institutions. Several schools, including the independent New York Law in Manhattan and Thomas M. Cooley Law in Michigan, are facing lawsuits for allegedly playing fast and loose with their record keeping and misleading students about career prospects.

Yale law professors Ian Ayres and Akhil Reed Amar have devised an innovative solution to the unemployment problem: Pay students to drop out of law school after the first year. The law school and the student would split the difference, writes The Chronicle of Higher Education (November 29, 2011), with the academy refunding half the first-year tuition. The policy, Ayres and Amar argue, would encourage law schools to tighten up admission requirements and prevent them from padding profits by admitting unlikely-to-succeed applicants. It would also discourage struggling scholars from battling through the full course of study, only to fail the bar exam and be stuck with a six-figure loan–or pass and still not find a job. “There’s a psychological tendency to double down on a bad debt,” Amar told the Chronicle. Getting half your money back “lets you walk away and not feel like a loser.”

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