US Judge criticises 'staggering' cost of law school

August 14, 2012 Ann L Aiken, the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon has gone on the record to voice her criticism of the US legal education system in general and law schools in particular for the burden of student debt laid on law graduates.

The criticisms were made in the context of a student debt collection case, in which the law school debtor attempted to discharge his student loans in bankruptcy. In general, tuition loans will not be forgiven in bankruptcy, and the exception of ‘undue hardship’ is notoriously difficult to meet.

Here is an excerpt from the judgment:
“Yes, you read that correctly: in two decades, the cost of law school tuition increased 317 percent. This staggering increase — or, more precisely, a lack of awareness about it — is probably what led the outgoing ABA president to utter an incredibly out-of-touch humble brag about how he sold his Corvair for $330 to pay for his first semester at law school (including his books). These days, that’s chump change for anyone who’s enrolled in law school. If you even tried to pay off a semester’s worth of tuition with a mere $330, the bursar would probably mutter a cynical, Taken-esque “Good luck.”

So while tuition increased by epic proportions, the availability of job opportunities for recent graduates did not.”

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