Four distinguished law school deans held a lively discussion about the future of law school education before a capacity crowd Thursday at the State Bar Annual Meeting. Roger Cossack – who is participating in his eighth consecutive Annual Meeting! – moderated the debate, which was part of the Future of the Profession CLE. The panel included Ken Starr (pictured, left) of Pepperdine Law School, Larry Sager of the University of Texas Law School, John Attanasio (pictured, right) of Southern Methodist University, and Brad Toben of Baylor Law School. The hot topic was the rising cost of law school education. All agreed that tuition is too high but that there are no easy solutions. Increasing scholarship budgets and providing loan forgiveness programs help, but "most law schools are vitally tuition dependent," said Starr, adding that alumni associations need to get "radically interested" in this issue. Toben raised the issue of law schools’ dependence on the U.S. News & World Report rankings, perceived as all important by many prospective students and law firm recruiters. "Too much money is being spent to get better rankings," he said. Sager added that the system makes it difficult for schools to view students holistically rather than as a number because the ranking focuses on how much schools spend per student. "That’s a huge variable," said Sager.
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