California: Cheapo Law School

Law.jpg

While an undergraduate education is expensive, it’s is nothing compared to law school. While sometimes law schools are willing to cut students deals, in exchange for past achievement or promises of future service, one school is just bucking the trend altogether and offering law school for half price. According to an article in the New York Times:

Costs are rising rapidly throughout the University of California system, but its newest law school, at Irvine, announced this week that the 80 students chosen for the second entering class will get privately financed scholarships covering at least half their tuition for all three years.

Irvine’s inaugural class of 60 students, who arrived in August, received full scholarships for all three years — a deal that helped Irvine attract so much interest that it accepted only 4 percent of its applicants, making it the most selective law school in the nation in its very first year.

This is college pricing at its very basic. If you just make it really, really inexpensive people will apply to it. They have to. Although the school is not even accredited yet, it can garner plenty of applicants due to its incredibly low price. Last year the school accepted a mere four percent of its applicants; it’s the nation’s most selective school.

Also, unlike other unaccredited law schools, Irvine is affiliated with a respected institution of higher learning, which means students can expect the school to actually become accredited and worth the apparent risk of cheapness.

The bargain basement price isn’t really a policy so much as a gimmick: “Obviously we can’t keep these scholarships going forever,” said the school’s Dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, “but I think we need to keep it going till we’re established as a school, so that we keep getting these high-quality applicants.”

UC Irvine began law school classes this fall. It is the first public law school to open in California in more than 40 years. The state of California already has almost 11 lawyers per 10,000 residents, one of the higher lawyer concentration rates in the United States.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer