The reason nothing can be done about people getting paid twice as much to teach half as many students as three decades ago is because "compensation costs rise steadily." The only way to keep these unstoppable cost increases from being passed through completely to JD students through tuition increases is either to have a huge endowment (which means getting rich people to give us lots of money so we can get paid more to teach less, although I guess we might want to phrase that slightly differently), or to create "new programs," which means convincing people other than JD students to give us lots of tuition money so we can get paid more to teach less.Some critics depict law schools as not caring about consumer issues or students economic life. This is not a fair charge. Law schools and faculties are acutely aware that legal education has become expensive and that it is now more difficult for graduates to secure good jobs. Law schools very much want to deal with these problems (to the extent within their control) and make things better for their students. But these problems are not ones that can be solved through a quick ﬁx.
For example, law school tuition has been rising steadily. Many factors contribute, and there is a temptation simply to assign blame—it is all too common to blame administrators (supposedly too many) or faculty (supposedly more concerned with scholarship than with teaching). But a structural cause (not unique to law schools) is that most of a school’s costs are in compensation. Compensation costs steadily rise, and it is very difficult to achieve productivity increases (e.g., through larger classes) without sacrificing quality. As a result, increasing compensation costs are passed through as increases in tuition.
To control the rising price of the I.D. education, it must be subsidized and, unless there is a very large endowment, the only real option is through revenue from other programs. But just as it takes time to build endowment, it takes time and a fair amount of business acumen to develop new programs and bring them to financial success. And so the problem of rising J.D tuition cannot be solved overnight.
But it would be unfair to blame any of this on law school administrators or faculty, given that compensation costs rise steadily.
BTW here are Valparaiso's employment stats for the class of 2011.
Update: Dean Conison has a post today on Huffington celebrating the Versatile Law Degree. (Running an art gallery does sound more fun than document review).