Classes begin Monday at the state's first-ever public law school.
The University of Massachusetts School of Law, in Dartmouth, was formerly known as the Southern New England School of Law, a struggling, unaccredited school that literally donated itself to UMass Dartmouth earlier this year.
Private law schools opposed the idea of a UMass law school, saying competition is already tough enough for their graduates. Indeed, as of 2009, Massachusetts had one practicing attorney for every 152 residents — one of the highest concentrations in the country.
It's easy to make lawyers jokes, but proponents of the UMass Law idea have argued the state actually has a dearth of public-service lawyers — public defenders, people defending the poor and indigent for very little money. The hope is that a public law school, with its state-subsided tuition, will produce more lawyers ready to serve the public interest.
So far at least, the experiment is a success. Even though the school is still unaccredited, 475 people applied, and 182 first-years are starting classes this week, dozens more than were projected.
We want to hear from lawyers and law students. Do you think there are already too many law schools in the workforce? Is $23,000 a year cheap enough to produce a generation of public-service lawyers?
This program aired on August 23, 2010.