How The Government Can Fix Law Schools By Ditching Generous Loans

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Students listen to U.S. President Barack Obama talk about the rising costs of student loans while at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, April 25, 2012.

After running a scathing article on the "last days of BigLaw," The New Republic has published insight from legal industry bigwigs on how to fix law schools.

One of those experts was Paul Campos, author of "Inside the Law School Scam," who told TNR the cost of law school needs to come way down to accommodate a "hypersaturated" market.

The federal government can help with that, Campos says. Here's what he told TNR:

The cost of law school needs to be reduced to what it was a generation ago. This would happen practically overnight if the federal government put reasonable caps on educational loans. Such caps need to take into account that law graduates are entering a hyper-saturated market ... Allowing people to borrow $200,000 of taxpayer money to enter such a market is extraordinarily irresponsible.

We asked Campos to elaborate on what kinds of student loan caps the U.S. government should put in place, and he said the government should ditch Grad Plus Loans, which cover the full cost of graduate school. That would leave law students with Stafford Loans, which have a $20,500 annual limit that Campos called "reasonable."

Once aspiring lawyers no longer have unlimited sources of tuition money, law schools could be forced to cut tuition to attract good students.

"Law schools can cut costs in countless ways. Law school cost half as much 20 years ago than it does today in real terms, while not being a significantly different educational experience," Campos told BI.

The danger of cutting federally backed loans for law students is that law school could be available only to wealthy people. It's also possible that fewer people will go to law school, but Campos says that's probably not such a bad thing.

"I doubt anyone can come up with a cogent argument regarding why the government ought to subsidize the production of more lawyers," Campos told BI.



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