How To Fix The American Legal Education System

Boston College students walk across the college campus (AP)

In the 1973 movie, “The Paper Chase,” John Houseman plays Charles W. Kingsfield, a fierce and brilliant contracts professor at Harvard Law School. He tells his students, “I train your minds. You come in here with a skull full of mush; you leave thinking like a lawyer.”

A lot has changed since the days of Professor Kingsfield. No doubt, there are still rigorous and demanding law professors, but today American legal education is in crisis. At least that’s what Vincent Rougeau, the Dean of Boston College Law School, argues. Writing recently in The Atlantic, Rougeau says that not long ago, newly minted JDs could count on high-paying jobs at big legal firms. But those days are gone.

According to the American Bar Association, only 55 percent of law school graduates landed full-time jobs last year. A growing number of graduates are entering an increasingly uncertain job market burdened with as much as $150,000 debt. This raises the question: does it even makes sense to go to law school?


  • Vincent Rougeau,  dean of  Boston College Law School


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