When you went to college, did tuition come with a 15% tuition rebate if you did not find a job within nine months after graduation?
Now a law school is setting a precedent.
Brooklyn Law School, as reported in The New York Times, will “repay 15 percent of total tuition costs to those who have not found full-time jobs nine months after graduating.”
The story further explains that it typically takes nine months for graduates to land jobs and, if necessary, “obtain the requisite licenses,” according to school officials.
According to Dean Nicholas Allard (my friend), the school has a $133 million endowment that made the program possible.
But, many law schools are well endowed. For example, Harvard Law School’s whale-sized endowment of $1.7 billion makes other endowments look like minnows.
Regardless, to create this new program Brooklyn Law School has named “Bridge to Success” took vision and admitting that law schools were disconnected from their practical role – that role, to provide lawyers to the world.
Allard has been quoted by hitting the problem head on. He said, “Who can afford to go to law school?”… “Who can afford to hire a lawyer? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is that most Americans cannot afford it. And that’s wrong.”
In those words, Allard is tearing down the façade of an Ivory Tower and replacing it with practical business – and real business solutions. I believe that Allard looks at legal education as a business.
And Brooklyn Law School is a case-in-point for any business. In fact, if you are not working in a business or service that is addressing a problem and finding a solution – you are working at a sinking ship.
Think to yourself about your own job and organization — “Is my company asking the tough questions? Is my company addressing the tough problems? Are we really dedicated to finding solutions?”
The companies, schools, not-for-profits that do ask those questions, and then push for solutions, improve the chance to survive and thrive. And, if they fail, at least they failed trying.
I have used this quote before from the movie Shawshank Redemption, but I think it is apropos again – “Get busy living or get busy dying.”
Allard wrote, “The fact is that the financial model of law schools is broken. Unless the schools do what they can to make legal education more affordable, they will price themselves out of business, contribute to the high cost of legal services that most people need, and widen the gap in access to justice.”
So Brooklyn Law School is an example of an entity on a mission bigger than itself.
And we have seen that before in obvious examples. When Apple pushed the iPhone, it made the smartphone industry ubiquitous. Henry Ford made automobiles affordable for most people. Jigar Shah, founder of SunEdison, the largest solar services company, made solar affordable.
Most of these changes happened because a problem was solved – whether it was Apple’s user interface and simplicity, or the assembly line, or a new business model to deliver solar in the power purchase agreement.
So, whether you are in a big company, a small company, or a not-for-profit – if you are part of solving problems and making a difference, you are busy living. Even if you are just one spoke in the wheel.
So behind a law school rebate is underscoring the real role of law schools and coming forth with a promise – that the school is obligated to deliver excellent lawyers to society and then make sure they land jobs.
And, if you are a recent graduate still looking for a job – perhaps ask your school for a rebate.