Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Like the proverbial elephant, law school appears different when perceived from different perspectives. During my twenty years as a law professor, I saw law school as a professional training program, a legal research institute, and a wonderful group of academic colleagues. The articles in this Symposium on the Future of Legal Education, based on a conference held at Vanderbilt in spring of 2006, generally view law school from a similar perspective. Now that I'm a Provost, my perspective is different. This raises some new issues, but it also underscores the basic theme of the Symposium. Law schools, like business schools, public policy schools and undergraduate programs, are largely tuition- supported institutions, although supplemented in essential ways by private donations. This is possible because their students are capable of paying the steadily increasing tuition (often with the help of federal loans, of course), and neither the teaching nor the faculty research relies on the extensive use of technology or large empirical data sets. Medical and engineering schools also have tuition-paying students, but the technological demands of both the teaching and research means that their tuition and donation revenue must be heavily supplemented by grants. In graduate programs, the students generally don't (and often simply can't) pay the tuition, and some fields are subject to technological and empirical demands as well; consequently, these programs must be subsidized by other sources, including grants and related support.