The Boston Globe and New England Law

Today the Boston Globe published a lengthy article critical of New England Law / Boston, a school that has traditionally been very popular with UMass students and alums. The article focuses primarily on the Dean’s salary but then goes on to make a number of claims about the school’s tuition increases, post-grad employment rates and US News ranking.

As an observer of legal education who tries to ensure that those of you considering law school are as fully informed as possible before making your decisions, I find the article incredibly frustrating.  It combines a mix of valid points (e.g., employment rates) with irrelevancies (e.g., US News ranking).  Is the Dean’s outsized salary important to your decision whether to attend the school?  Maybe, marginally, in the general sense of asking yourself where your tuition dollars are going.  But the issues of extraordinary tuition increases and whether law school is worth the price, while absolutely critical, are common to all law schools—New England Law has not been particularly outrageous in this regard, relative to all of the other schools.

It’s not that New England Law is without fault; it’s just that it’s not alone in its practices, and most of the issues mentioned in the article are endemic at this point.  The implication of the article is that New England Law is an outlier, and that’s the kind of thinking that can lead you astray, not just about New England, but about law schools in general.

But it’s also not the case that New England Law (or most any law school) is all bad, or involved in an elaborate scam.  That’s a simplistic notion you should reject.  Life and your career choices are much more complex than some superficial “good vs. evil” narrative. A UMass Amherst alum who is a current student at New England Law forwarded to me a letter that went out to all current students this morning, from the Chair of the New England Law Board of Trustees.  You can find it here.  I’m providing it despite its inherently self-serving nature, because I think you should consider the arguments and claims of all sides before you make any decisions about whether to apply to and/or attend New England Law. 

Finally, of course, ask more questions.  Not just of the school, but of its students and alums.  We share a great many alums with New England; they are your best source of information about the school’s value.  Check out the UMass Amherst lawyer-alum network to connect with them.