Milk the Law School Cash Cow or Go Moo?

27 de agosto de 2017

I don’t even know what that title means, so let’s moo-ve on.

Here’s the scoop in case you haven’t heard it yet.  Your law school may be a cash cow funding other parts of the university.  Large chunks of your tuition may be flowing out away from you and into other departments of the wider university that you have no interest in funding.

So, what do you do?  Do you read this with indignation, sigh, and go read some more problems out of your Secured Transaction’s book?  No!  Here’s what you do.

First, get data.

If you’re at a public law school, you can access your school’s financial data including faculty salaries online.  (Don’t worry – we will discuss faculty salary bidding wars later).  So, go online and find the data with your newly-minted, razor-sharp legal research skills (that you likely learned over the summer during an internship or while doing pro bono work and not at school) and contact your Dean to request a meeting where he explains to you and other students how the financials go and flow in, out, and through, and off off and awaaaay.

If you go to a private law school, you may have a bit more digging to do, but it is worth it if you consider how broke you’re going to be after you graduate.

Contact your SBA president or directly contact your Dean.  Best if it’s a two-pronged effort, don’t you think?  Then, ask your Dean for a financial report for your school and a meeting where your Dean, or whoever rolls in the school dough, will explain the expenditures.

What if your school won’t provide you with a financial report?

Private students – I’m sorry to say, but I think you’ll have a tough time.  If you’re on your way out and graduating, congratulations!   You probably aren’t even reading this post, so carry on with your kegger and drink away your woes, as I do, alone, in my apartment, because I can’t afford to go to a bar.  If you’re a 1L or 2L, you should expect your tuition to rise and continue to rise, and you should remind yourself that each semester, you’re accumulating more and more debt.  You’re basically taking out a mortgage, but you won’t get an awesome TV/entertainment/game room out of it.  Instead, you’ll probably be unemployed or at a job that doesn’t even make a dent in the massive pile of debt you’ve accumulated, drinking alone, while squatting in someone else’s apartment.

Worst Case Scenario

You:  “Hello Dean X.  I would like to take a look at our school’s financial data.  Would you please provide me with a financial report?”

Dean X:  “That is not possible right now, and our policy is not to provide this kind of information.  Imagine what would happen if we gave you this information and (names other private schools which he considers to be in similar league) didn’t?  Our school would be greatly harmed.”

You:  “But, I believe I have invested three years of my time and the equivalent amount of money that could have bought me a large lakeside/beachfront property, so my friend, SBA President Y and I, as well as the rest of the student body would like to see a financial report with an explanation of expenditures . . . (You then proceed to scream out: ‘Show me the money!’ and regret it afterwards).”

Dean X:  “I appreciate your enthusiasm.  I apologize, but I am going to have to take this call.”

(Months pass . . . )  Analyze the Situation

First, think to yourself what it means when someone evades your question.  Usually, they’ve got something to hide, don’t you think?  Next, get a group of students together with your SBA to demand the information again.  If the SBA refuses, well, move on and keep going.  Let them plan out next year’s Law Prom.  Sometimes, you just have to delegate.  Go rally your friends.  You’ll have strength in numbers.

Report Bad Behavior

If, after your repeated requests, the school refuses to budge, this is one of those times you get creative.  Contact us, Above the Law, and other news sources to let us know that your school is refusing to provide you with financial reports.


Well, it definitely will take some of your nonexistent free time, and it may be intimidating depending on what level of law school alert you are on:

  • Red Alert (HIGH) = unemployed, bottom half of the class, bleeding money, been considering dropping out every other day – not much to lose.
  • Yellow Alert (ELEVATED) = not the summer job of your dreams, middle of the pack, afraid your Dean or faculty member X will give a bad recommendation if you push the wrong button, even if it’s the right thing to do – lose-lose here.
  • Green Alert (LOW) = top of the class, on a full scholarship, job of your dreams, up for a prestigious award decided by the deans and faculty – everything to lose.

Are you on Red Alert?  Perfect!  Go forth, get your data, and if they won’t give it to you, tell us about it.  Are you on Yellow/Green alert?  Take a deep breath and try to do the right thing beyond your own self interest and take one for the team.

This is Your Investment

 You’re investing three years of tuition into “your education.”  Wouldn’t you want to know that “your education” is where your money is really going?


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