“What’s the sign say?” I asked.
“Don’t go off on a jag,” she said with a slight giggle, “It says ‘Future New Home of American University Law School.”
“Why now?” I blurted out with some salty language that followed.
The next morning I did a bit of research and learned that AU was by no means the only law school to sink huge dollars into a new facility. How could this be?
The law school building boom — and that is a fair characterization — in many ways mirrors the construction frenzy of undergraduate colleges and universities. At a time when there is more than one trillion dollars of outstanding student debt, “institutions of higher learning” continue their building arms race.
The justification is frequently “We’ve got to do it to remain competitive.” But do soaring atriums, student lounges, and workout facilities really promote learning and skills required for today’s job market? And, to be crassly pragmatic, do they enhance the return on investment for the debt ridden student body and family members who are often co-guarantors of financially crippling educational loans?
It’s remarkable — with the exception of a few elite law schools — that there has been any major law school construction after the 2008 financial crisis. After all, that is when the “new normal” began for the legal vertical. True, many remained convinced for a while things would return to the way they were, but as a friend of mine says of bad results, “how’d that work out for you?” [Read more…]