“It’s a good old-fashioned story of regulatory capture.”

October 9th, 2011

Brian Tamanaha on the cartel that is the ABA and the AALS:

Law schools have demonstrated time and again that we are incapable of regulating ourselves. It started a century ago, when AALS and ABA wrote accreditation standards to keep out competition from lower cost urban law schools that educated immigrants and working class people. It was on display in 1995, when the Department of Justice filed a civil antitrust suit against the ABA, charging that legal educators had captured the accreditation process and were using it to ratchet up their wages and reduce their teaching loads. And it is happening again now–as highlighted by two recent examples.

Well, the thing is, the ABA Section on Legal Education has itself long been dominated by legal educators. That’s what got the ABA into trouble with DOJ in 1995, and the intertwining of the ABA and AALS (a lobbying organization for legal educators) goes back more than a century. It’s a good old-fashioned story of regulatory capture.

It’s time to have external scrutiny by a body that is not beholden to law schools. The Senate has a particular interest in this matter because federal loans are keeping law schools afloat (and tuition high).

Rent seeking. Works every time.