I graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law last May. Last July, my dean of all three years, Phillip Closius, resigned. As the state of Maryland let the door hit him on the way out, he publicly accused the university of using the law school as a cash cow–jacking up law school prices, then taking nearly half of the revenue earned to support the rest of the university, to the tune of 45%. All of this was on the heels of a (somewhat) shocking New York Times expose about the dirty business that is law school.

Photo belies the awkward, no?

Hey, good news: it was only 31%.

As a person who pays $1,763.74 per month for her time at UB, there’s a lot to be disappointed about regarding this revelation. However, I think the Times, the Wall Street Journal, et al have done a pretty good job covering the risk/reward problem facing law students. I want to talk about white board markers.

Teaching often requires visual aids. My sales & leases and commercial law professor, Judge Smalkin, used to draw the most amazing diagram involving a boat, robbers hiding in bushes, the Church Hill Liquor Store, and a pile of checks somewhere in a mountain in Colorado to demonstrate negotiable instruments. The only way he could draw the diagram was by bringing his own dry erase markers. If his markers ran dry, students would toss their own markers to the front of the class. Why? The school couldn’t provide. Same for chalk, batteries, functioning computers, and library materials.

Is that what the 31% was supposed to be paying for? A better learning environment? The school part of law school? Yes, there’s a huge problem valuing legal education. But, in Baltimore’s case, there’s an even simpler problem of getting what you pay for.

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