Thomas E. Brennan
Nothing new here. When I founded Cooley Law School 40 years ago, the powers that be in the American Bar Association did everything they could do to stop us. The cry of “too many lawyers” has been raised by members of profession for decades. These are difficult times, but no worse than 1952 when I went to work for a law firm making less than my secretary and my wife who was a part time teacher. The law is an ancient and honorable profession. Those who enter it to serve their clients and their communities will find the rewards sufficient. Those who enter it to make a lot of money are in the wrong profession.
And a typical response:
Try Looking For Solutions, Not Avoidance
Justice Brennan, The difference between the situation you describe when you graduated and the situation that current graduates are currently facing is the astronomical rise in law school tuition. It is one thing to make less than your secretary and wife who is a teacher. Every recent grad can relate to that. But the astronomical rise in law school tuition has made such low salaries deadly and debilitating, and I know many Cooley graduates who have been financially destroyed by the combination of low wages and extraordinarily high tuition. The decision to attend law school should never come to financial destruction and regret for attending law school and following one’s dream. When it has, law school administrators need to take a careful look at whether tuition has climbed so high that it has made law school a bad investment. Denying the problem does nothing.
For the record, I am a Cooley grad and was Cooley’s biggest cheerleader, until I saw the majority of my fellow graduates who had excelled at Cooley working at Home Depot and other unbelievably low paying jobs, including some individuals who had passed the bar and were working at Cooley. It is not the criticizers who are damaging the school’s reputation: it is the school itself, who refuses to tackle the problem of too many graduates graduating with little or no legal job prospects and thinking that if it simply denies it, the problem will go away.
For those Cooley administrators who are reading this post, please take note: if you want the school’s reputation to improve, stop denying the problem and ignoring it, or comparing it to when you graduated, when extremely high tuition rates didn’t make law school a bad investment. No amount of denying will contradict what your graduates are facing, and their anger WON’T go away, because the problems they face everyday don’t. Instead, use your publicity to announce how you intend to combat the problem and what steps you will take to increase job opportunities for your grads. I assure you, potential students want to hear that you are a school that cares about the job opportunities of your graduates - not a school that denies a problem exists.
I have always bragged about the phenomenal education Cooley gives. But none of that matters if its grads will have little opportunity to use it because they have little possibility of getting a legal job. Please wake up, Cooley, and start looking at how your grads are truly faring in the job market and why there seems to be such a large amount of anger directed at the school. Continuing to say, “it aint so, it aint so” just makes your complete lack of touch w/ reality seem incredulous and only increases the criticism directed at the school. Your attitude and failure to grasp the magnitude of the crisis your grads are finding themselves in is truly destroying the reputation of the school and the sad thing is, you’re taking a lot of hard-working students and grads down with it.
Portrait: Chief Justice Thomas E. Brennan