Columnist asks about needs vs. wants

Note: In the future, there are likely to be more such questions – of the type excerpted below – about campus plans for new programs, schools, and even grand hotels.

Dan Walters today in the Sacramento Bee:

Was UC-Irvine’s Law School Strictly Necessary?

Six years ago, yours truly wrote a column about a proposed law school at the University of California’s Irvine campus, suggesting that it was more about academic ego and Orange County boosterism than a shortage of lawyers. The column pointed out that the state already had 25 accredited law schools and the number of graduates taking the State Bar examination had been rising steadily to nearly 7,000 a year. It also cited a study by the California Postsecondary Education Commission’s staff, concluding that there was simply no need for another law school, especially one whose construction and operation partially depended on public funds…

UC – both its Irvine campus and the statewide Board of Regents – ignored the commission’s criticism and created the law school anyway. Fast forward to 2012. The UCI law school graduated its first class and boasted that 46 of its 51 graduates who took the State Bar examination passed… Fast forward again. Last week, the Los Angeles Times published a lengthy article describing the angst felt by recent law school graduates who cannot find jobs while struggling to repay huge loans they took out to finance their legal educations.CPEC was absolutely correct six years ago in concluding that the state had more than enough lawyers and didn’t need another expensive, taxpayer-subsidized law school….

There is – or should be – a lesson in this tale.

Full column at http://www.sacbee.com/2013/04/08/v-print/5323708/dan-walters-was-uc-irvines-law.html

Contemplating necessity isn’t always pleasant:

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