Massachusetts Daily Collegian

New UMass law school is for fools

By Ben Moriarty

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The moon, although it looks very small in the sky, is actually quite large and has a gravitational effect on the Earth. Along with the Earth’s rotation, the gravitational pull from the moon has a continual effect on the water on our Earth, causing things like low tides and high tides.

And sometimes, in especially rare cases, this proceeding and receding of the water magnifies, and instead of a nice system of orderly tides, which usually and somewhat resemble a sine wave, the amplitudes combine and form a double high water, a grave danger to those on the coast.

This is may be the situation the University of Massachusetts system walked into this past Tuesday, when the Board of Higher Education voted unanimously for the approval of the creation of the UMass Dartmouth Law School. They willingly chose to have a second high tide.

At first, this seems like a splendid idea. Forty-four states have law schools. Why shouldn’t we? The UMass system was given the facilities of a law school by the Southern New England School of Law with its closing, so it didn’t need to spend the money on that in particular. And, with the creation of a state university operated law school, it would give people the chance to go that might not be able to go otherwise.

As UMass president Jack Wilson said, and as reported in the Collegian earlier this week, “A public law school means that law students will graduate with less debt and have more flexibility in making their career choices.”

That sentiment is so obviously an example of the idealistic, equality-for-everyone attitude that is all too prevalent in our state ­– a ideology that usually runs along the track parallel to reason, and then flips the switch so the train of reason de-rails, crashes, burns and kills all the passengers riding on it.

The problem isn’t that we shouldn’t have a law school. It is that the market is currently oversaturated. It is high tide at the moment, and we are possibly going into a second high tide.

The problem comes down to this: We should not have a law school in this climate. Massachusetts already has several law schools which are highly respected: Harvard, Boston University, Boston College and Northeastern. Three of these are top 25 law schools, and one is one of the best public interest law schools in the country.

Now, that may not matter to you, but when you realize that law schools are quite regionalized, meaning, the one you attend is in all likelihood going to be in the area you practice, this essentially means: you will be kind of screwed as a result of the surrounding schools and competition.

There is absolutely no room, rhyme or reason to having a UMass Dartmouth law school.

Graduates from tier one law schools are having some trouble finding jobs. And that is not including the dreaded average debt that is accumulated from law school, which sits gently next to one hundred thousand dollars. Tuition at the UMass Dartmouth law program is going to be around a quarter of a hundred thousand dollars a year, law school being three years, and that is a very conservative cost if you aren’t going to forsake the quality of the school.

The creation of a UMass Law School is this: you will inherit a decent debt, be pitted against students from the most respected law schools in the country in a market with too many people for such a low demand, and your degree will be from a school which has no reputation and which is not even expected to be approved by the American Bar Association until 2013.

The only real positive to this situation is that UMass Dartmouth obtained a facility, library and professors from the Southern New England School of Law. That is, they didn’t invest and have to spend an inordinate amount of money for something which seems to be nothing more than an ornament for the UMass system.

So, while the high tide is here, the moon isn’t moving across the sky and as a result, the law market isn’t receding into low tide, UMass should get in their boat, ride to the nearest town, then sell all of the fish they were given. And with that money, do something useful.

Ben Moriarty is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]


6 Responses to “New UMass law school is for fools”

  1. George Robinson on February 5th, 2010 5:57 am

    You are failing to understand that by creating a public law school the state will essentially kill off two 4th tier law schools all located in Boston. There is no need for these schools to be in Boston. These lawschools have floundered in the 4th tier for throughout their entire existence. A new public school in a non saturated location will attract better students in search of a less expensive education. My guess is UMASS LAW will become a top tier law school in relatively short order. I saw this happe when George Mason Law School acquired a no name law school in Arlington, VA and became a preeminent law school very quickly. I think your article lack vision and smacks of opinion tainted by the fear of those 4th tier law schools in Boston that will certainly fall by the wayside.


  2. Anne on February 5th, 2010 10:05 am

    I was the first person in my family to go to college. I got to go to UMass Amherst because of generous federal and state grants. I was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate but couldn’t afford to go to law school – something I regret to this day. I am very glad that the UMass system will have a law school for students like me – people who are not fools at all but just want a chance to get the degree and then compete to show that we are just as good.


  3. whm on February 5th, 2010 5:19 pm

    To summarize this article: A load of uninformed crap sandwiched between two idiotic metaphors…

    Yes we have several top tier law schools in MA. And when graduates of UMass, or any of our other public or private undergrad institutions are turned down to all of these highly competitive law schools, they move to other states to go to law school. And since law is a field often controlled by regional influences, as Mr. Moriarty points out, they often sit for the bar in the state where they studied law, and remain in that state to practice. UMass Law School is not going to compete with the Tier-1 schools over the same applicant pool, nor will its graduates compete with the grads of Tier-1 schools for the same jobs. UMass law will provide an affordable alternative to the private schools, and its graduates will be able to find jobs faster than their private school counterparts, since they will not have to hold out for a 6 figure salary in order to pay off their loans.


  4. ed on February 6th, 2010 10:02 am

    I too couldn’t afford to go to law school — but who says the UMass Law School is going to be affordable? Everything I see is that it will NOT be, that it still will be cheaper to go to the UMaine or other state schools via NE Regional, except that one will no longer be able to do that.

    Worse, who says that this won’t be come the Democrat’s Suffolk Law – the law school for party activists and politicians — all attending for less due to their “public service” interests.

    The real issue is the anti-trust aspect to law school in general. What part of “right to counsel” is limited to “right to counsel by those who have spent lots of money and three years in a law school approved by a non-governmental agency (ABA)”?

    My take is this: UM Law can not meet either of the markets that it could possibly go after — those who can’t get into anywhere else or those who can’t afford anywhere else — and will be less able to do this in a market where computer technology and boilerplate is replacing lawyers on a daily basis.

    This could well be the white elephant that takes down UM Dartmouth if not the whole system…


  5. Jack on February 6th, 2010 12:23 pm

    Ed, this is an inflated opinion. You are too busy looking for political conspiracies to realize your own short-sightedness in the matter. Public education is for the people, and UMass Law champions this cause. Don’t be a fool.


  6. Matt on May 13th, 2013 11:18 am

    So all the haters know, I graduated from UMASS Law, passed the NY State bar exam, and now have a full time legal job !


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