A faculty member at an elite law school has forwarded me an email the entire faculty received earlier this week. The email explains that, because of a combination of all the bad news about law school graduate employment prospects and the improving employment prospects in other fields [???], this has turned into an unusually competitive year for law schools in their attempts to get prospective students to enroll.
In these circumstances, the faculty are told, a phone call or even a short email from a faculty member to an admitted student could make a big difference, even if the faculty member has nothing to say beyond this school is great and I'm happy to answer questions. Faculty who want to pitch in will be given a list of admitted students to contact.
Although I'm not at liberty to disclose the identity of the school it's a place that 96.738% of law school applicants would have loved to get into before David Segal et. al. started harshing legal academia's mellow, and where the faculty are paid stupendous sums (I have seen their compensation structure) to teach 2.27 classes per year and tell the Supreme Court what to do. Even by legal academic standards it's a particularly sweet gig, so from the standpoint of pure self-interest the recipients of this email ought to bestir themselves and get on the phone or at least the computer.
Remember, coffee is for closers.
But seriously, what are the faculty supposed to say to the people they contact? If these prospective students are at all "sophisticated consumers" of information about higher education, it should send up some warning flags that the faculty of this top law school are actually imploring them in person to attend Our Great School.
Furthermore, there's the potentially embarrassing detail that the vast majority of law faculty know little or nothing about any of the things they would have to know to answer the most important questions 0Ls who have a clue will want answered. These questions will not include "does the law school feature a collegial atmosphere?" or "how good is your international sports law program?" They will include "how do the career prospects of this school's recent graduates compare to those of these three competitor schools I'm also considering?" and "do you have any real basis for claiming that paying what you're asking me to pay to go to this school makes sense for me, given my opportunity costs and reasons for considering law school (neither of which you know anything about)" and "can I haz some more money plz?"
So kids, if you get a call or email like this, remember: when The Robert M. Owen and Patricia Calder-Johnson Professor of Commercial Human Rights Law is asking you what he has to do to put you in a new law school today, he's pitching you, just like that polite well-dressed fellow down at the Hyundai dealership. With one key difference: when you leave the dealership, you'll actually have a car.