Cloth ISBN: 9780804796477
Paper ISBN: 9781503603011
American law schools are in deep crisis. Enrollment is down, student loan debt is up, and the profession's supply of high-paying jobs is shrinking. Many blame overregulation and seek a "free" market to solve the problem, but this has already been tested. Seizing on a deregulatory policy shift at the American Bar Association, private equity financiers established the first for-profit law schools in the early 2000s with the stated mission to "serve the underserved." They offered the promise of professional upward mobility through high-tech, simplified teaching and learning.
In Law Mart, an in-depth ethnography of a for-profit law school, Riaz Tejani argues that the rise of accredited for-profit law schools exposes the limits of market-based solutions for American access to justice. Tejani reveals how for-profit schools marketed themselves directly to ethnoracial and socioeconomic "minority" communities, relaxed admission standards, increased diversity rates, shook up established curriculum, and saw student success rates plummet. They contributed to a dramatic rise in U.S. law student debt burdens while charging premium tuition financed up-front through federal loans. If economic theories have influenced legal scholarship, what happens when they also shape law school transactions, governance, and oversight? For students promised professional citizenship by these institutions, is there an obligation to better discern their quality or reputation? Offering an unprecedented glimpse of this landscape, Law Mart is a colorful foray into these essential questions.
About the author
Riaz Tejani is Assistant Professor of Legal Studies at University of Illinois Springfield.
"Law Mart is a compulsively readable and dark tale of a for-profit law school. The school's stated mission is to provide 'access' and 'innovation' to underserved populations, admitting students with low scores and limited options. Out of sight of students and accreditors is a corporate operation that uses emotional intelligence testing for employees, implements curricular reforms to satisfy nervous investors, and fires and intimidates professors who object to changes they perceive as detrimental to the students. This compelling book raises serious concerns about the permeation of economic imperatives in academia."
—Brian Z. Tamanaha, Washington University School of Law