... of the Shark's reaction to Frank Lasee's proposal to end public funding for the UW Law School
1. Great! Stick it to the competition. But that is really ungracious and hardly a neutral principle.
2. But I am surprised that UW Law School gets only $ 2.5 million in public money. This means that it is mostly self supporting (although certainly some of the tuition money that its students pay has a public source.)
3. If we have a problem with too many law suits, the likely cause is not lawyers filing frivolous lawsuits but courts finding that the lawsuits that they file are not frivolous. The more direct answer for that problem is tort reform.
4. In any event, Lasee, as a good Republican conservative, ought to know that it is for the market, and not the legislature, to decide whether we have too many lawyers. While one could argue that subsidizing the cost of a legal education at UW artificially lowers its cost and inflates the supply of new lawyers, the facts don't lend much support. The subsidy is shallow and graduates of our state law schools are overwhelmingly employed following graduation. It appears that the market does demand them. Wisconsin, in any event, apparently has significantly fewer lawyers per capita than the national average.
5. It's an odd way to address a surplus of lawyers. Certainly Lasee doesn't think that we need not train new lawyers because we have too many older ones. In any event, with only Marquette and Wisconsin, the state has comparatively few seats for law students per capita. Given that they are almost all employed, the more likely outcome would be an increase in tuition and the same number of new graduates. Lasee says that he can live with that, but, if the problem is a surplus, the problem would continue.
6. Lasee may have had a better point if he had asked why taxpayers should subsidize an education that is often quite lucrative for those who complete it. The question is not unanswerable. Market imperfections may require some subsidy for students who are not wealthy. All of the valuable jobs that lawyers perform are not lucrative. All of the value in a law school is not captured in the training of lawyers.
But private law schools do handle these problems quite well and the first two issues, in any event, would seem to suggest that financial assistance go to the student and not the institution. I am not outraged that the UW Law School gets public money, but it would not exactly shock the conscience if it were required to be self supporting.