January is a time when parents of high school and college students across the country are pulling out their hair over the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Parents who manage to accurately complete the FAFSA are able to open the gateway to billions of dollars in federal, state and college financial aid.
While America's preeminence in both elite and mass institutions of higher learning fueled its economic leadership in the last century, that preeminence (and the rising generation's standard of living) is at risk unless the sector overhauls its traditional practices to lower costs while lifting quality.
The status quo in American legal education hummed along quite well for several decades -- most graduates of accredited law schools passed the bar, most found paid work as lawyers, and most fared far better, financially, than those who did not get law degrees. But two events in the last eight years unsettled the status quo, one familiar, one less so.