ABA panel will examine law school costs

American Bar Association President James R. Silkenat has announced the formation of the ABA Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education.

The task force is charged with looking at the cost of legal education for students, the financing of law schools, student loans and educational debt, he said.

It will also consider current practices of law schools regarding the use of merit scholarships, tuition discounting and need-based aid.

“As law school tuitions and educational debt loads increase at the same time employment opportunities for recent graduates are constrained, the ABA needs to lead a thorough examination of the financing of legal education and law schools,” Silkenat said.

He said task force members “will conduct a comprehensive study of the complex economic and political issues involved and produce sound recommendations to inform policymakers throughout the legal community.”

Dennis Archer, former mayor of Detroit and one-time president of the ABA, will serve as chair of the task force.

Prior to his time as ABA president, Archer served on the Michigan Supreme Court for four years. He is chairman emeritus of the Detroit-based law firm Dickinson Wright and serves on the boards of Johnson Controls and Masco Corp.

Archer also is on the board of Progressus Therapy, a nationwide provider of school-based therapy and early intervention services for school districts and communities across the country, and InfiLaw, a consortium of independently owned and operated ABA-approved law schools.

Other members of the task force include:

• Luke Bierman, who will become the dean of Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, N.C., on June 1 and formerly served as general counsel to the comptroller of the State of New York.

• Christopher Chapman, president and CEO of Access Group, a nonprofit membership organization of 192 ABA-approved law schools that works to further access, affordability and the value of legal education through research, policy advocacy, direct member and student educational services, and student financing options.

• William Curry, partner with Sullivan & Worcester in Boston who focuses on general corporate and securities law.

• Heather Jarvis, adviser on student loan issues (askheatherjarvis.com) and advocate for reducing the financial barriers to practicing public interest law.

• Goodwin Liu, associate justice of the California Supreme Court and former professor at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law.

• Rachel Moran, dean, University of California at Los Angeles School of Law.

• Lucian Pera, treasurer of the ABA and partner with Adams and Reese LLP in Memphis.

• Erika Robinson, associate at Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun & Rogers in Marietta, Ga., who focuses on education law. She is a former law student liaison to the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

• Jason Mark Sengheiser, law clerk with the Missouri Court of Appeals and a member of the Missouri Bar’s Young Lawyers Section Council.

• Kurt Schmoke, interim provost and chief academic officer, vice president and general counsel of Howard University and former mayor of Baltimore.

• Philip Schrag, professor at Georgetown University Law Center.

• Joseph West, president and CEO of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.

• Robert Wilcox, dean of the University of South Carolina School of Law.