Guess how many students will graduate from U.S. law schools this academic year. Go ahead, guess. Do you have a number in mind?
On Friday, I was astounded to learn from the ABA that the answer to that question is “nearly 44,000.” That’s 44,000 NEW law school graduates. That means that in 12 years, we will have half a million new law school graduates. How could our country possibly need that many law school graduates? What do all of those people do? 44,000 law school graduates suggests that around 132,000 of our fellow citizens are spending this year enrolled in a law school. Is that a sound use of Americans’ time?
My state, Maryland, is in the midst of a horrible budget crisis. Maryland has two state-supported law schools, both in Baltimore. According to Map Quest, the two schools are 1.52 miles from each other. I assume (though I confess that I don’t actually know this to be true) that each receives considerable support from Maryland’s taxpayers. Should Maryland consolidate the schools or simply axe one of them? Does Maryland really need two state-supported law schools within walking distance of each other? I assume that eliminating one of them would result in substantial savings and I don’t think that our collective society would suffer from a slight diminution in the number of new law school graduates spewing out into it each year.