But, by asking "are we done yet" I am not referring to Moneylaw and other blogs remaining from the "blog boom." It's more about public legal education. It seems like the ideal outcome in terms of legal training is the absence of public law schools. In other words, whatever public legal education produces would be produced in sufficient quantity and quality by private markets. Unless public legal education is just a device for redistributing income (in which case we could just write checks and forgo the huge expense of what would amount to money laundering) this must be the case. When the "public good" rationale is no longer viable, doesn't it mean the end of public legal education? I am not sure, but it seems like most would agree.
If so, how does that square with so many efforts to "build programs." I do not mean programs that generate income or pay for themselves but efforts 1) to offer new programs to attract students who otherwise would have no interest in law school 2) to compete for students who have more than enough choices. One explanation is that each School spends its money most effectively when it educates the best students, and not those who are likely to squander the public investment. That's a nice idea but how does that square with measuring success by placing students with high end law firms where the benefits of the training are most likely to be internalized by the students, partners, and well-heeled clients. And, how does it square with empire building that seems unrelated to any sense of obligation to shareholders. Pretty clearly, even when public legal education is done in the sense the public good rationale is gone (if it is not already) public law schools and various faculty special interests will be slugging it out to "build their programs."
This reminds of a odd interaction this week that falls into the category of is it "economics or ethics." At a meeting I expressed my now boring view that a public law school should study a state's needs and shape its curriculum accordingly. (I am such a broken record on this that I am surprised no one has said, "No reason to talk, Jeff. We know what you are getting ready to say." But when you think about it this could apply to most law professors. Most faculties could save time by canceling all faculty meetings and just alert people when someone has something new to say.) At my law school most graduates stay in the State and most work for relatively small firms. The competing position was that should adopt a curriculum that would make the students attractive in the national market most notably large law firms. Frankly, not much separates these views and it's a good faith debate that probably goes on at most mid level schools. After the meeting, I was told that it was interesting to hear the economic perspective Huh?!! Is it a matter of economics to believe those who pay the bills deserve the benefits of their investment? Or is it a matter of simple ethics and the observance fiduciary obligations?