Friday, July 13, 2007

Six Degrees ...

... 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.


Anonymous said...

I agree on the points of rhetoric, but on allegation, #6, what say you counselor?

Yes, I know.

There is no point to said subsidy, and many more should be DELETED.

Dad29 said...

That $2.5 million number struck me, too, as a very small number.

Anonymous said...

Two bad that the reporters who wrote the story didn't dig deeper into Frank Lasee's past to find out more about his personal animus toward lawyers. The Green Bay Press-Gazette had the story a few years back after Frank (who walked out on his wife) got into a hissy fit on the stand in court over a child support or visitation issue. I don't remember the details -- wish I had kept the story -- but it was most bizarre. He went off after the Judge (of all people in the room!)

The inclusion of this idiotic item in the Budget is a piss-poor reflection on how much thought and effort went into crafting the Republican version of the Budget. Had there been an ounce of openness in the process, this is one of the items which would never have seen the light of day.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we should close medical schools in order to reduce cancer, etc?

This is just a little too silly.

Anonymous said...

I have read -- the Shark and Shep probably knows this or can correct it -- that actually, more than half of law school graduates in recent decades do not end up practicing law. They end up as CEOs and VPS in the business sector -- in part because in many businesses, it's good to have a legal background these days, but also because their skills in research and analysis are what businesses need (especially those who retain their communication skills despite reading the lesser works in legalese that make my head hurt:-).

It would seem that not only do we not have "too many" lawyers, we don't have enough of the kinds of minds law schools turn out for the business sector.

Of course, that's true of many types of college degrees today -- since more than half of college graduates who are working are not working in their major fields. Many put their minds, trained in research, analysis, and similar skills no matter their majors, to creating new fields that weren't even taught when they were in school.

Many coming out of college now will continue to do that in future for us -- if we recognize, as so many smart states have, that funding for advanced education is investing for the future for all of us. But Mr. Lasee's idea of funding education, of course, is giving guns to teachers, rather than giving skills to students. . . .

So we already knew that he was nuts. Now, what is the excuse for the majority in the Assembly who voted for his addition to the budget bill?

Dad29 said...

Well, Anony 12:44 AM, then what do you say to Wendell Berry?

Not really on point, but if you want to examine "college education" you should be conversant with Berry's thoughts...

Anonymous said...

Dad, I think you will have to become more conversant with cutting and pasting -- the link doesn't work.

As it happens, I have read Mr. Berry's commencement speech and such, if that's what you mean. And I would agree with him that education is not meant to be only utilitarian, as too many of our lesser-educated legislative leaders (particularly the one who dropped out of ORU) would like.

But as Mr. Berry says, high school graduates already have learned everything they need to know to keep living at home.

Anonymous said...

This appears to be another example of Republicans legislating their private legal woes. CCAP Lasee and you will find not one but TWO separate family law matters with two different women that he appears to have impregnatied and then left. You will also see taht he apparently can't follow WI traffic laws, but that is beside th epoint.

The reason Lasee is against lawyers is that he doesn't like to be held accountable for his actions, which is what a lawyer did to him.

The afct of the matter is that lawyers do not file frivolous lawsuits (at least none that survive an early motion for summary judgment or to dismiss). When you hear about a verdict(which is,m after all, the only thing you really hear about) it is not a bunch of lawyers who make th everdict, it is a jury of citizens. While the verdict makes headlines, the actual circumstances do not. For example, the infamous McDonald's hot coffee decision is always pointed to. Well, that was a jury verdict, and the jury heard a lot more information than ever got into the paper. The coffee was so hot as to cause 2nd and 3rd degree burns. The burns became horribly infected ad kept th eelderly woman in the hospital for a very long time. She was unable to walk, in horrible pain, and had to undergo numerous painful surgical procedures. McDonals had been warned about the termperature being far too hot so as to be dangerous, but did nothing. In fact, this particular restaurant had been warned that there was no purpose for having it so hot.

Trial lawyers have kept asbestos out of your lungs. They have made cars safer so they don't explode with a 15 mph accident. They stop doctors with dementia from practicing surgery on your loved ones. If your spouse is abusive, they protect you.

I am pretty damn tired of the lawyer bashing, especially from a guy like Lasee, who turns to lawyers when he needs them, but doesn't have the personal integrity to admit it.

Marcus Aurelius said...

Excepting a number of the comments this is the best commentary on Frank's proposal I have seen. Most are ad-hominem (as are a number of the comments here)

I have seen a ranking that lists WI as one of the top states when it comes to lawsuit unfriendliness.