Apologists who defend the status quo in legal academia, by limiting their reformist gestures to various types of ineffectual hand-waving, have developed a stock set of responses to more searching critiques. I'm going to list the top ones here, without bothering to debunk them. Feel free to use the comments to do so, and/or to add others that I'm not listing.
(1) The current financial crisis in legal academia is largely if not wholly a product of an unforeseeable once-in-a-generation/lifetime/century melt down in the hiring market for new attorneys, brought on by the financial crisis of 2007 and the subsequent recession.
(2) Things are starting or will start to get much better as the effects of (1) recede and we get back to normal.
(3) A first-rate legal education is inherently expensive. Law schools that cost as much to attend as Harvard did 30 years ago would produce second-class lawyers, doomed to labor in the lower reaches of what would become a hierarchically stratified profession.
(4) Law professors have to be paid two to four times as much as professors in the humanities and social sciences, because otherwise it would be impossible to recruit quality faculty, given the opportunity cost law faculty incur by going into teaching.
(5) Nominal tuition rates are far higher than real tuition, because many/most students pay far less than nominal tuition, because of generous scholarships funded by nominal tuition rates.
(6) Actuarial controls on student loans would create higher barriers to entry to the profession, which would disproportionately affect potential students from traditionally disadvantaged social groups.
(7) People inside legal academia who criticize legal academia are hypocrites.
(8) You can do a lot of things with a law degree besides practice law.
(9) Legal education is inherently valuable, beyond whatever increased earning potential it may generate.
(10) Legal scholarship provides crucial critiques of the legal and political status quo, which couldn't be produced at anything close to the present volume if law school were cheaper because people had to teach more than they do now.
(11) We're now turning out more practice-ready lawyers than formerly, and that can't be done on the cheap.