As many attorneys and aspiring lawyers are well aware, the costs of a legal education in 21st Century America are astronomical. Paying the sticker price at a private law school in the United States can currently lead law students to take out mortgage-sized student loans in order to cover expenses related to tuition, study materials, and living costs.
Where Law Students Currently Stand
At a time of great economic uncertainty resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic, many law students are balking at the high costs of a legal education. One common issue of contention relates to the quality of online classes.
Due to social distancing measures, in fact, most law schools have apportioned class times to weekly Zoom call sessions that mimic a traditional classroom in “virtual spaces.” Clearly, school administrators and faculty are trying to do the best with what they have at a time when educational resources are low. These professionals are aware that students are often paying enormous costs to attend law school and expect more than a regular Skype call from their teachers.
How Educators Are Responding to Tough Challenges
But the reality of teaching during a pandemic is forcing many legal educators to compromise on their vision of a legal education. For many students, such compromises were not a part of the bargain when applications were sent out: Indeed, success in the legal field is often predicated on the kind of networking that tends to occur in law school classrooms.
To wit, when tomorrow’s lawyers can’t socialize with one another, the thinking goes that they will not be able to build the contacts necessary to secure employment as attorneys. Considering the financial and emotional investment that a legal education now requires, that could put off the current crop of law school attendees from pursuing a career to the best of their abilities.
Choosing an Exit Strategy That Works
So far, however, most law schools have not come up with a viable alternative to the virtual classroom model. And until a vaccine becomes widely available, the prospects of having a “normal” classroom experience while in law school might be bleak. That could mean that most law students won’t get to sit in on in-classroom lectures until at least Fall 2021.
For many students, the costs of attending law school can already seem exorbitant. Adding in the frustrations of attending law school during a pandemic can make the process feel extraordinarily stressful. If law schools can get a handle on a Coronavirus exit strategy, however, things might get back to normal sooner than most of us might imagine. That would be a relief indeed for many of today’s brightest law students.